Coconut oil is a versatile oil that can be used with a variety of cooking methods. Unlike olive oil, coconut oil has a higher smoke point and can be cooked at higher temperatures without the risk of burning your food or causing a fire. Coconut oil is healthy because it is made up of medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), components of fat which take less time to metabolize than the long chain triglycerides found in other common oils such as olive, peanut, and canola. The less time it takes a fat to metabolize, the less time it has to float around in the blood, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Consider the following ideas when trying to use coconut oil in your recipes.
Remember, coconut oil has a high smoke point and can be used to pan fry meats, vegetables, and sauces. Because of its subtle sweet coconut flavor, it works really well with tropical and islander style dishes like stir-fry and jerk-seasoned chicken. You don’t have to use coconut oil only for special occasions, however. It can be used in place of canola or vegetable oils for things like grilled cheese sandwiches, eggs, and anything else you pan fry. It will impart a coconut flavor, however, so be mindful of the dishes it is used in if you do not like this flavor.
Coconut oil stands up to high roasting temperatures and is a nice flavor addition to roasted vegetables, meats, and casseroles. Because of its slightly sweet flavor, consider using it to coat sweet potatoes or carrots just before roasting to illicit the intrinsic sweetness of these vegetables. You can even use coconut oil to coat the inside of baking dishes to prevent foods from sticking to the sides of the dish.
To make a healthier baked good, try swapping out the butter in a recipe for the same amount of coconut oil. Because coconut oil is a highly saturated fat, it is solid at room temperature and can be used in amounts comparable to butter. Coconut oil is quite sensitive to temperature and will remain liquid if left out at room temperature. However, if stored in the refrigerator or left out during the colder months of the year, it will harden and resemble the consistency of butter.
When in liquid form, consider using a tablespoon or two to flavor a dish just before serving. Drizzle a little on soups and cooked grains, like rice or quinoa. Make a tropical inspired bowl of oatmeal topped with pineapple, walnuts, and drizzle of coconut oil. You can even top your homemade popcorn with a little coconut oil and a dash of cinnamon.
Coconut milk and coconut oil are widely used in many different curry dishes. Use the coconut oil to sauté the vegetables and aromatics of your curry, then add your spices and coconut milk. When done, place over a bed of rice and drizzle the final product with a little coconut oil.