I love going out for Thai food this time of year because it’s pretty certain they’ll have mango and sticky rice for dessert. I try to remember to ask before ordering because if they DO have it, I need to save room and not to fill up on too much rice.
Last week I opened a can of coconut milk for something else and didn’t use it all. I put the remainder of it in a glass jar in the fridge. When I went back to it later, I could see through the jar that the top 50% of the coconut milk had thickened to a fluffy cream. I’m guessing that all of the fat/cream rose to the top and all the watery coconut milk stayed at the bottom (kind of like how a vinaigrette or salad dressing separates when cooled). Anyway, it made me think of the coconut cream sauce that’s on mango and sticky rice. Which then, made me think of the perfectly ripe mangoes sitting in my fruit bowl!
I thought about trying to recreate mango and sticky rice, but I figured there’s just no way I could make it like they do at my favorite Thai spots. To be honest, my main hang-up was in getting the rice just right, which, like in sushi, seems like it would be critical. The dense and spongy texture of the sticky rice cooked in coconut milk is so incredible. Anyway, I didn’t feel like reading up on it and experimenting. I had the momentum going and I basically just wanted some coconut cream over sliced mango.
The process of making the coconut cream from a can of coconut milk is simple. You want to use the tick, creamier coconut milk that rises to the top, so don’t shake up the can or it’ll combine! If you just bought it and think it may have gotten shaken up in transport, you might want to let it settle in the fridge for a couple hours. Even convert it to a glass or jar so you can see the separation better. Then, starting from the top, spoon about 1/3 of the can of coconut milk into a small pot/pan. Then it’s just a matter of heating the coconut milk to a simmer, adding some sugar, vanilla extract and either cornstarch, arrowroot or a little white flour to help it thicken. You cook it a few minutes and whisk it up nice and good to help the wateriness evaporate. It will actually thicken up quite a bit once cooled too. I let it get nice and cold in the fridge before pouring over the mango.
And because I’m always looking to spice stuff up, I topped it with Tejan fruit and vegetable seasoning, which is basically a mixture of chili and lime flakes and salt. Have you ever tried this stuff? It’s wonderful on all kinds of raw fruit. They carry it at most Latin American markets, but if you can’t find it, just use some red pepper or dried chili flakes.
Creamy coconutty deliciousness.
I’ve made coconut cream like three times since and have enjoyed it on strawberries, blueberries, pound cake and tea cookies. ALSO, excellent mixed into yogurt or blended up in smoothies!
RecipeCoop/prep time: 20 minutes Serves 2-3 Make sure you get regular coconut milk, not reduced fat. Remember, you want to use the tick coconut milk that rises to the top, so don’t shake up the can or it’ll combine. If you just bought it and think it may have gotten shaken up in transport, you might want to let it settle in the fridge for a couple hours. You can even convert it to a glass or jar first so you can see the separation better. For thickening: If you don’t have arrowroot or corn starch handy, you can improvise by moving a small amount of the mixture to a bowl and adding a couple pinches of flour. Stir in the flour until totally combined and then add it all back into the main pot of sauce.
- One large ripe mango
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- Tiny pinch salt
- 2 drops of vanilla extract
- 1 can coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
- Chili flakes or Tejan fruit and veggie seasoning (optional for topping)
- Peel and slice up mango. Set aside.
- Starting from the top of the can, spoon about 1/3 of the can of coconut milk into a small pot/pan. Refer to notes above for technique.
- Cook coconut milk on medium heat until it begins to simmer. Then add sugar, vanilla and salt. Reduce heat and continue cooking and stirring.
- In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot with 1 tablespoon of water. Add to sauce and continue cooking (5-10 minutes) on low heat until it thickens more. If you feel your sauce is still too runny, add the second teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot in same manner and continue cooking.
- Remove from heat when sauce can thickly coat and stick to a spoon. Let cool and transfer to fridge. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Pour over sliced mango and top with chili flakes if desired!