I have been hearing a lot about coconut oil recently and I have to admit it has got me totally intrigued – so when I read about the Vita Coco Challenge on Foodies 100, it seemed like a good time to find out more…
What is Coconut Oil?
Hailed by many foodies as a wonderfood, Coconut oil is simply oil extracted from coconuts and is believed to have many health benefits. It can be used in cooking, but also as a beauty product on both your hair and your face.
Vita Coco Coconut Oil is raw and vegan, so it is particularly good for people who prefer to eat raw foods or avoid animal products. It also has a high smoke point, so won’t burn if you want to cook with it at high temperatures.
What does it taste like?
Being a food blogger, I was obviously most interested in the taste! Coconut oil is usually a solid, white fat (though it melts at 23C, so it’s a liquid at temperatures higher than this) and tastes quite a lot like coconut milk – though a bit milder and more greasy. It gives food cooked with it a lovely, subtle coconut flavour, but doesn’t dominate.
What can you make with it?
Its subtle coconut flavour means it’s great for using in cakes and other desserts, instead of butter or margarine, but it can also be used in savoury cooking and particularly lends itself to Asian style dishes where a delicate coconut flavour really works well.
Where can I buy it?
Vita Coco Coconut Oil can be bought from Tesco, Ocado and Amazon.
Thai Chicken Traybake
As part of their #swearbyit campaign, Vita Coco have challenged food bloggers to come up with new great recipes made with Coconut Oil and the recipe that sprang to mind for me was a Thai style traybake (clearly my mind works differently to everybody else’s, as it seems most other food bloggers instantly thought of cake and other sweet goodies – you can check out their recipes here.)
Actually Coconut Oil rather neatly solved a problem for me – I had been toying with the idea of a Thai chicken traybake for ages, but I wasn’t quite sure how to inject the coconut flavours you’d normally find in a Thai food into a traybake without turning the traybake into a curry (with coconut milk) or a dessert (with desiccated coconut). Coconut oil seemed like the perfect solution. Not only did it provide the flavour I was missing, but it was a much better choice for roasting than olive oil (my usual cooking oil), which tastes all wrong with Thai food.
That conundrum solved, the rest of the dish came together really easily – I took some of the flavours I might usually use in a Thai red chicken curry – red curry paste, chicken, aubergines, red peppers and butternut squash – and recreated them in traybake form. I started by melting some coconut oil in a large tray in the oven and then tossed the veggies in the oil and put the tray back in the hot oven to begin roasting. I then melted a little more coconut oil and mixed it with a couple of tablespoons of red curry paste (I used Thai Taste). I used this mixture to coat the chicken thighs, which I then popped on top of the veggies and cooked them in the oven for a further 30 minutes. Finally I sprinkled the dish with fresh coriander and served it with rice.
To make my life even easier, I used a ready prepared bag of diced onion, butternut squash and sweet potato, but you could chop these yourself, if you prefer.
I chose to use chicken thighs as they are less prone to drying out than chicken breasts and I prefer the flavour, but this dish can easily be done with chicken breasts instead if you want to – allow one chicken breast per person.
The fragrant, aromatic flavours in this dish would go beautifully with an aromatic wine such as a Gewurztraminer or Riesling.
Thai Chicken Traybake with Vita Coco Coconut Oil
- 4 tablespoons Vita Coco Coconut Oil
- 490 g bag diced butternut squash sweet potato and onion (I used Tesco Soup Mix.)
- 1 large aubergine or 2 small ones, cut into 1cm cubes
- 2 red peppers cut into 1cm pieces
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste I used Thai Taste.
- 800 g skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander chopped finely
- 300 g basmati or jasmine rice to serve
- Preheat your oven to 200C.
- Put 2 tablespoons Vita Coco Coconut Oil in a large roasting tray and put the tray in the oven to heat up. Meanwhile prepare your vegetables.
- When the oven has reached 200C, remove the roasting tray from the oven and add the chopped onion, butternut squash, sweet potato, aubergine and red pepper. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly to coat the vegetables in the coconut oil. Put the roasting tray back in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
- Next, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of Vita Coco Coconut Oil in a small saucepan (or microwave) until liquid but not bubbling. Take the coconut oil off the heat and add the 2 tablespoons of red curry paste. Stir thoroughly. Spread this paste evenly all over the chicken thighs.
- After the vegetables have been roasting for 10 minutes, remove the tray from the oven and give the vegetables a stir. Then place the chicken thighs on top and put the roasting tray back in the oven for a further 30 minutes.
- Ten minutes before the chicken is ready, cook 300g rice according to packet instructions / your own preferences.
- When the chicken thighs have been in the oven for 30 minutes, cut into one to check it is thoroughly cooked (if not, return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through), then remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle over the chopped coriander.
- Serve with basmati or jasmine rice and a glass of Gewurztraminer or Riesling.