There are the beaches, temples, and the nightlife of Thailand. And then there are coconuts.
The Kingdom’s cultural riches may best be represented by the elaborate chedis and majestic temples, but nothing spells tropical island paradise more than a row of coconut groves along the sandy shores of Phuket or Samui.
In cosmopolitan Bangkok, the tropical fruit is seen everywhere: vendors selling fresh juice from a freshly-cracked coconut; pushcarts and Thai restaurants selling fragrant coconut milk ice cream.
Itim kati, or coconut milk ice cream, is simple enough to make at home when the craving for a taste of the tropics hits. But what elevates it from a thin alternative to vanilla ice cream to a full-flavoured scoop of creamy goodness?
“There are many ways to make coconut milk or kati ice cream, but the trick is bringing out the flavours in the ingredients”, says chef Thaninthorn “Noom” Chantrawan of Chim by Siam Wisdom (One MICHELIN Star).
“To give fragrance to the ice cream, I add juice from burnt coconut to give it depth. If you come to Siam Wisdom, we serve kati ice cream with sticky rice and mango, but if you don’t want to tip the scale, just ask for coconut milk ice cream on its own. I promise you won’t pile on the pounds. You’ll only pile on happiness,” he adds.
Right: Coconut milk ice cream with mango and sticky rice at Chim by Siam Wisdom (One MICHELIN Star).
Thick scoops of coconut milk ice cream are usually topped off with a handful of roasted peanuts. But if you don’t intend to stick to that diet programme, why not go the whole nine yards? The dessert is usually enjoyed with a slew of other pound-piling but irresistible toppings - think sticky rice, lotus seeds, sweet potatoes in syrup or taro cubes to complement the creamy coconut goodness and you’ll wish every day was a cheat day.
Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipe - Ingredients (10 servings):
- 1kg grated old coconut meat
- Fresh coconut meat from three young coconuts
- 1 handful of pandan leaves
- Juice from 3 roasted coconuts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 150g coconut palm sugar
- 50g caster sugar
- 30g glucose
- 300 g whipping cream
- 100 g full fat milk
Method:1. Mix warm roasted coconut juice together with some pandan leaves. Once warm, pour into grated coconut and squeeze out the aromatic coconut milk and separate from the grated meat. Add whipping cream and milk to the coconut milk and place entire mixture over low heat.
2. Add more pandan leaves to the mixture and keep stirring. Add sugar, glucose, caster sugar and salt. Mix till completely dissolved and let chill in the fridge completely.
3. Churn according to your ice cream maker's instructions and add strips of coconut meat last, in the final 1 to 2 minutes of churning.