If you are among those who love coconut, but still think of it as a fatty shredded addition to some of our most beloved desserts, and therefore is something to be indulged in sparingly because of its high saturated fat content, then the news that I have for you just might make your day. Coconut is not only delicious, but it is a nutritional super star, and the fat that the coconut provides might be destined to be your new best friend because surprise... it is good for you! The humble coconut has sustained large populations of peoples in the tropical world for generations, who are for the most part, not obese, and do not have heart disease. They are also known for their beautiful skin and hair. Globally, the coconut is the most extensively grown and used nut in the world and is the most important palm.
|It might look like ice cream, but it's not. Coconut oil is solid under 76°F.|
Most of the objections that I have read concerning coconut, condemn it because the oil is comprised of almost completely saturated fat. First, a word about saturated fat. Saturated fat is stable. Therefore, unlike vegetable oils, which are made up of mostly polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats are resistant to mutation. This means that saturated fat is less subject to very unhealthy changes over time (as it sits aging on your pantry shelf) or when it is subjected to heat when cooking, which is also very important. More importantly most people do not realize that these ubiquitous vegetable oils (canola, safflower, corn, sunflower... you name it), are heated up to very high temperatures when processed. They are basically "pre-rancidified" in order for them to be able to sit on the grocery store shelf for years at a time. Most fats are very perishable, require refrigeration and have short shelf lives unless they go through this unhealthy processing. Although the topic is controversial, I am in the camp that believes that high quality saturated fat is essential to your health. If you would like to read more about the benefits of saturated fat, please check out "Love Thy Saturated Fat" written by my friend and co-worker, Misty, who is our Nutritional/Wellness Educator at work (Whole Foods Market). I realize that the information provided in Misty's article is the exact opposite of what most of us continue to be told about fats, but much of what we are told about fats is... how shall I say this delicately... misinformation that has been promulgated by very large corporate interests who produce products with poor quality oils because they are inexpensive. These unstable oils are often (adding insult to injury) altered again and chemically changed into evil trans fats in order to extend the shelf life of the commercial product. On the other hand, consider the following information from the Coconut Research Center:
Another interesting fact about the saturated fat of the coconut, is that the oil is comprised of mostly
2.5- 3 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1.5-inch cubes (use a tough cut of meat that needs to be tenderized from the cooking process)
1 13.5-ounce can of full fat coconut milk
1/4 to 1/2 cup (2 to 4 ounces) of Panang curry paste depending on your heat tolerance ( I used Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste)
3 tablespoons of natural and unsweetened peanut butter (I use 365 from Whole Foods)
6-7 fresh kaffir lime leaves, cut into very thin strips (do not use dried)
2 Tbsps coconut oil for browning the meat
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 Tbsps palm coconut sugar
sliced fresh or pickled jalapeño chiles for garnish (I prefer pickled)
roasted and salted peanuts for garnish
1. Heat the pressure cooker pot over medium high flame. Add coconut oil to the pot. When melted and very hot, add the chunks of beef to the pot. Brown the meat. When meat is browned (caramelization has occurred) it is ready to add the coconut milk and curry mixture (see next step). Do not salt the meat (fish sauce is very salty).
2. While the meat is browning, heat up the coconut milk in a saucepan with the curry paste and a couple of kaffir lime leaves. When the mixture starts bubbling turn off the heat and allow to sit.
3. When the meat is browned, remove the kaffir lime leaves from the coconut milk and curry mixture and then and pour the mix into the pressure cooker. Stir to make sure the beef is coated with the curry mixture. Add the fish sauce and palm coconut sugar to the pot and gently stir until blended. Liquid should mostly cover the meat. If more liquid is needed add coconut milk, coconut water, or water.
4. Immediately turn the heat down and attach the lid of the pressure cooker following your manufacturer's instructions. Keep the heat on low. When steam is coming through the regulation valve set the timer for one hour. Allow mixture to cook adjusting temperature as needed to maintain proper pressure. After one hour, remove the pressure cooker from the heat and run cold water over the top and the sides. Remove lid with caution and set aside. You will no longer need the lid. Put the pan back on low heat and stir in the peanut butter, and half of the julienned kaffir lime leaves.
Serve the curry, sprinkled on the top with the remaining kaffir lime leaf strips, roasted peanuts and the jalapeño as desired. Spoon the mixture over the cooked rice of your choice and enjoy.
To be continued next week with Part Two by Michelle...