If you love cooking with coconut milk, you may have found yourself wondering what to do with leftovers when your favourite recipe uses slightly less than a full can. But don’t worry, there are plenty of delicious things to make with just a splash of coconut milk. To help you out, we decided to compile a list of our top ten ideas, but in the end we just couldn’t narrow it down. So here are eleven of our favourite ways to use leftover coconut milk.
Coffee, Tea, or Matcha Latte
Whether your morning pick-me-up is coffee or tea, coconut milk works great as a replacement for regular milk, and it makes a delicious, slightly sweet matcha latte, too. Try it mixed with espresso and a drop of caramel syrup for an indulgent afternoon treat, or poured over ice with some cold brew.
Lots of smoothies use coconut water as a sweet, nutritious base, but for a creamier consistency, try using leftover coconut milk instead. Pour the coconut milk into ice cube trays and freeze it until you need it. Then, when you want to make smoothies, just add the coconut ice cubes to the blender with the rest of your ingredients for a silky smooth treat.
Oatmeal and Chia Bowls
Oatmeal and chia bowls are both great ways to start the day, full of all the energy and heart-healthy nutrients you need. Add a sweet but healthy twist to these little pots of goodness with a splash of coconut milk instead of your regular milk. You can soak chia seeds in coconut milk overnight for a creamy, rice pudding-like treat the next morning.
Soups and Stews
We all know that a swirl of cream or crème frâiche is great for adding richness and flavour to soups and stews, but coconut milk can work just as well, and in some cases, even better. Coconut milk complements the flavours of hearty vegetable soups, particularly tomato, and provides the perfect balance for richly spiced meals.
If you’re trying to cut down on dairy, but you love rich, creamy sauces, coconut milk could be your new favourite ingredient. A classic béchamel is made from a butter and flour roux mixed with whole milk, but you can make it vegan by replacing the butter with olive oil or coconut oil, and the milk with coconut milk.
Cook the flour and oil over a medium-low heat until you have a thick paste, then stir in the coconut milk. Season according to taste, and keep stirring for a few minutes until you have a sauce-like consistency.
Rice, Beans, and Lentils
Next time you cook rice, try replacing half of the water with coconut milk for a deliciously fragrant, extra fluffy coconut rice. Or make a meal out of leftover beans and lentils by cooking them up with some rice and stirring some coconut milk through at the last minute.
Oven-Baked Chicken or Fish
Using coconut milk is also a great way of keeping oven-baked chicken and fish succulent and juicy. Just pour a little coconut milk into the baking dish before you add the meat, along with some diced tomato to balance out the sweetness.
Make scrambled eggs extra light and fluffy by adding a little coconut milk to the pan. It also adds a hint of sweetness that tastes great garnished with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.
Add coconut milk to mashed potato for a deliciously creamy dish. You can balance out the sweetness with earthy herbs like dill and cilantro, or strong spices, like turmeric, chilli powder, and paprika.
Coconut milk tastes incredible paired with ceviche, it’s sweet flavour marrying perfectly with those zingy citrus flavours and the saltiness of fresh fish. Reduce your coconut milk in a pan for a few minutes to thicken and intensify the flavours, then pour it over the fish.
Use coconut milk to transform leafy greens into a creamy side dish. Simply take whatever green vegetables you have to hand - leeks, kale or spinach all work well - and sauté in a little oil. As they’re just beginning to wilt, stir in the coconut milk and season to taste.
More Recipes with Coconut Milk
If you’re hungry for more coconut milk recipes, here are some of our favourites.
This super-easy recipe for rice noodles with prawns and coconut milk is bursting with Asian flavours. The sweetness of coconut milk pairs well with juicy prawns, crunchy mangetout and a hint of chilli heat.
For a coconut milk recipe with real chef pedigree, try this recipe for meen molee fish curry by Atul Kochhar, chef at Benares restaurant in London. A beautifully-spiced sea bream curry, this dish is sure to be a hit at your next dinner party.
Coconut milk conservation
If you don’t want to use your leftover coconut milk right away, you need somewhere to store it, and an opened can is not ideal. If you’re planning on using it in the next day or so, pour it into an airtight container and place in the fridge. It should keep for up to a week, but give it a quick sniff before you use it just to be sure.
If you need to keep your coconut milk for any more than a week, you will need to freeze it. Using an ice cube tray is a great idea if you’re planning on using it in several different dishes. That way you can take what you need and leave the rest in the freezer.
Coconut milk is great for so much more than just curries. It can be added to soups, smoothies, and even your early morning cup of coffee. It can be used to add a touch of creaminess to your favourite recipes, or as a vegan replacement for cow’s milk. And if you can’t think of anything to do with it right now, you can always freeze some for later.