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Ingredient of the Week: Coconut Milk


I’m trapped in the snow, deep in the Wicklow Mountains. The phone is no longer working. This machine is my only lifeline to the outside.

Luckily, I’ve been preparing for this eventuality. For many years.  There’s meat and frozen veg in the freezer, chocolate stashed under the bed , and unlimited tins of tomatoes and coconut milk.

So much coconut milk, that I’ve decided to make it the ingredient of the week. I reckon this will be particularly lovely for anyone battling the sludge and coldness, or if the snow has disrupted your life and contributed to stress.

Coconut milk is full of good fats and its heartwarming feeling comes with a zing. You’ll find it not only in Thai cuisine, but also in Malaysian, Filipino, Indonesian, Indian, Vietnamese, West African, West Indian, Hawaiian, Caribbean, and Brazilian.

This is a variation of Tom Yun Gai soup – one of Thailand’s best known dishes – and it’s different from the usual because it contains cocount milk. It’s a recipe from my friend Phil, whose company Kho Ka-jee will soon be supplying their amazing Thai curry pastes to restaurants around Ireland. This version, which uses coconut milk, is slightly less common.

I’m making a big survival pot that will last us for a few days, and which tastes even more delicious the longer it cooks for.

Tom Yun Gai Soup


  • 2 breasts of chicken sliced
  • 2 tins of coconut milk
  • 50g coconut cream, grated into 100ml water
  • 300 ml chicken/veg stock
  • 2 sticks of lemongrass
  • 4 bird’s eye chillies
  • 1 inch of galangal (thai ginger) sliced into 5 pieces
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 sprig of coriander, roots and all.
  • 1 tspn of fish sauce
  • 2 shallots
  • The juice of one lime
  • 3 medium tomatoes cut into cubes
  • Some button mushrooms, baby corn, bamboo shoots (optional)


  • Put the coconut milk and grated cream into a pot and heat until boiling.
  • Smash the lemongrass and chillies with a rolling pin or bottom of a cup. Do not chop – you just want to release the flavours.
  • Add lemongrass, chillies, lime leaves, whole peeled shallots, and whole coriander.
  • Allow to simmer for as long as possible  (at least 30-60 mins; the longer you cook this soup, the more the flavours can develop).
  • Add sliced chicken 10 minutes from the end, allow to boil.
  • Add the tomatoes and (optional) vegetables 5 minutes from the end.
  • Add the fish sauce and lime, and serve.

If you’ve got any interesting recipes involving a lovely bunch of coconut milk, please let us know.


  1. Not so much interesting, as delicious.

    I love Thai food and particularly a yellow curry as its not too spicy for me. So a few months ago I popped into the Asian Emporium in Rathmines and picked up some yellow curry paste and coconut milk. Yellow curry has become a bit of a staple ever since and couldn’t be easier to make.

    Fry chicken and whatever veg you fancy (potatoe and pineapple are fab), cook some rice, mix the coconut milk with the curry paste and Bobs your uncle. It tatstes just as good as any Thai takeaway I’ve ever had!

  2. Oooh, I love coconut, more of these please! Preferably something I can whack in the slow cooker…

  3. Puree some onion, garlic, red chili and shrimp paste in a blender along with some oil and curry leaves. Fry in a hot wok, stirring well to release the flavour. Add a tin of coconut milk, some stock, fish sauce and sugar and leave to simmer gently. Add in sliced meat (whatever you fancy, just remember to adjust the cooking time) and some veg (I like broccoli). Simmer until sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Add some chopped coriander and serve with rice.