Loco over coco

Don’t Call Me Chef

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - Star2@thes­tar.com.my

Here’s a nut with a thou­sand uses. We fea­ture three of those in our cook­ing.

CO­CONUTS – are they bad or good for us? For the long­est time, the con­sen­sus was that co­conut was bad for us, par­tic­u­larly co­conut oil and milk, both of which are said to be high in sat­u­rated fat. Not good for your heart or your hips (weight gain and co­conut have been said to go hand in hand), the co­conut has surely been made out to be the bad guy.

Re­cently though, New York Times food writer Melissa Clark re­ported that sci­en­tists have some­what back­tracked on their harsh re­views of the co­conut and its by-prod­ucts.

Ac­cord­ing to her March 11 ar­ti­cle, co­conut oil and milk may be high in sat­u­rated fats but that’s quite all right be­cause the main sat­u­rated fat in both is lau­ric acid, “a medi­um­chain fatty acid” which in­creases lev­els of good high-den­sity lipopro­tein (HDLs) in the blood.

Pure or vir­gin co­conut oil isn’t bad at all – when used mod­er­ately, the ar­ti­cle noted.

Else­where, there have been claims that co­conut oil aids in weight loss as it speeds up your me­tab­o­lism.

The co­conut de­bate will prob­a­bly out­live most of us but whether good or bad, most Malaysians (and per­haps most Asians) would prob­a­bly be at a loss with­out co­conut as a pantry in­gre­di­ent.

The Malaysian diet uses a fair amount of co­conut. We use co­conut milk in our cur­ries, gravies, desserts and, let’s not leave out nasi lemak, our national pride. Shaved co­conut is used as a condi­ment and also in desserts (co­conut candy – an­other dish we should claim as ours!). Co­conut water is a won­der­fully re­fresh­ing drink and it can also help en­hance the flavour of a main dish.

Hon­estly, it would be hard to imag­ine Malaysian (or any other South and South-east Asian) cui­sine with­out co­conut. It adds flavour, lends tex­ture and is so aro­matic.

Co­conut may be a point of con­tention but cer­tainly not in our books. Here’s to cook­ing with co­conut! n Don’t Call Me Chef ap­pears in Star2 on the first Mon­day of ev­ery month. It is co-pro­duced by Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar, Marty Thyme and Veg­gie Chick. You can also read the col­umn on Kuali. com.

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