I’ve never been to Asia. I’ve never even wanted to go to Asia. Then, Johnathan spent three months backpacking through Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, and the Philippines last year, and informs me that I must go back with him someday, that it was gorgeous (especially southern Philippines), and so perhaps one day I shall actually travel to Asia.
I do know that I like Asian food. That is, I like the North American versions of Asian food: sushi (though I’m still not brave enough to try real raw fish sushi: I stick to smoked salmon and crab and deep-fried shrimp and vegetarian rolls), Thai curry, Indian curry á la British pub, Thai food of any sort, Chinese buffet… you get the idea.
Since doing the Whole30 earlier this year, coconut milk, which was for me previously only an ingredient in Thai curry, has become a staple. While avoiding dairy for two months, I began to put coconut milk in my coffee, and lo and behold I no longer enjoy half and half. Go figure. Coffee is a staple for me, ergo so is coconut milk.
But not just any coconut milk. The Whole30 taught me that not all coconut milks are created equal.
For instance, many cheaper (and often imported from Asia) versions of canned (canned is the best) coconut milk contain sulfites, which is an additive that has what the Whole9Life people call “potentially nasty side effects.” It is often used as a preservative, but you can usually find versions of whatever you’re looking for (dried fruit, balsamic vinegar, etc.) that either doesn’t have preservatives or uses something more natural instead.
In the case of coconut milk, the premium version (don’t even look at the low-fat version: you want full fat, and besides, it’s cheaper!) of the Thai Kitchen brand uses something called guar gum as a stabilizer, not a preservative.
If you’re thinking about removing dairy and/or adding some good fat to your diet, grab a can of this coconut milk and add it to your coffee, tea, smoothies, curries, baked goods, etc. And let me save you the trouble of reading all of the labels of all of the other varieties you might find in your local grocery stores: Thai Kitchen is the best, with the fewest and most trustworthy ingredients.
And yes, they really should compensate me for this post.
Edit: The National Post posted a story (from @TheAppetizer) that breaks down the discrepancy between “coconut water,” “coconut cream,” “coconut milk,” and other products with similar names. Check out the delicious-looking recipe for Coconut-Lime Pulled Chicken Tacos!