Loco over coco
Don’t Call Me Chef
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.