Category Archives: Coconut Milk Recipes

Kulawong Talong: grilled eggplant with burnt coconut cream

Let me share this unique recipe from Filipino food advocate, author and restaurateur Amy Besa at The Maya Kitchen cooking demo. Amy Besa relates the origins of Kulawong Talong.

Amy Besa of Purple Yam

“My first introduction to the concept of a kulawo was in 2003, when I visited Ugu Bigyan’s home and pottery studio in Tiaong, Quezon. Visitors could call ahead and arrange to have lunch in one of his beautiful gazebos, where they would savor his signature dish, the banana-heart kulawo.

In Laguna, a neighboring province north of Quezon, it is the kulawong talong that stirs many nostalgic food memories among the locals. Both versions are tart because vinegar, instead of water, is used to extract the milk from freshly grated coconut singed with a hot coal. Interestingly, if one travels further south, the Bicolanos’ burnt coconut cream is not vinegary at all, since water is used as the prime medium of extraction.

The use of burnt coconut cream has been one of my most treasured discoveries in Philippine cooking, and I have never stopped wondering why I never encountered this while growing up in Manila, which is just a two-hour drive from Laguna and Quezon.

We would like to thank Nicholetta Labellachitarra, a Filipino chef working in Boston, who shared her memory of this dish —grilled eggplant with burnt coconut cream—with Romy, inspiring him to create a version of his own.”

Kulawong Talong1

Try cooking Kulawong Talong:

Burnt Coconut Cream:

Makes 2 to 3 cups

Two 16-ounce packages frozen grated coconut
1 cup coconut sap or rice vinegar
2 cups canned coconut milk
5 cloves garlic, peeled
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
2–3 bird’s-eye chiles (optional)

Grilled Chinese Eggplant:
8 Chinese eggplants
Sea salt, to taste

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Defrost the coconut and mix with the coconut sap or rice vinegar, kneading to extract as much cream from the coconut as possible. Wrap the coconut-vinegar mixture in cheesecloth and squeeze the coconut milk into a bowl until all the milk has been extracted (this should yield approximately 21/2 cups of liquid). Set the extracted coconut milk aside.

2. Spread the squeezed, grated coconut evenly on a baking sheet and bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until it is dark brown, about 50 minutes. Turn on the broiler, and place the baking sheet under it for another 5 to 10 minutes to slightly char the coconut—but be careful not to burn it too much.

3. In a saucepan, combine the extracted coconut milk, half of the pan of burnt coconut, the canned coconut milk, garlic, ginger, shallots, and chiles, if using. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a very fine-mesh sieve, using the back of a big spoon to squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Return the liquid to the saucepan and keep warm while grilling the eggplant.

4. Place the eggplants on a stovetop grill or under a broiler and cook until the skin is charred and the interior is soft. When just cool enough to handle, peel the eggplants and use a fork to spread and flatten the flesh a little. Season to taste with sea salt.

5. Arrange the eggplants on a dish and pour the warm burnt coconut cream over them.

S e r v e s 8

Chicken Halang-halang: A Visayan staple of chicken with coconut milk and turmeric.

Growing up in Cebu, Halang-halang is a Visayan dish my mother prepared as part of our regular menu. For Tagalogs, the halang halang tastes similar to a Chicken Tinola but the difference is coconut milk is added and the broth is reduced to a sauce consistency. Halang means spicy so expect this recipe to be spicy since red siling labuyo will be used in this dish I don’t have my mom’s recipe but XO46 Heritage Bistro, the brainchild of husband and wife restaurateurs Andrew Masigan and Sandee Siytangco-Masigan featured this recipe at The Maya Kitchen’s Culinary Elite Series 2015.

halang halang visayan dish

50 grams white onions
25 grams garlic, crushed
50 grams fresh luyang dilaw
200 grams bamboo shoots or labong
½ kg chicken thigh fillet
75 grams red/green bell pepper
2 pieces red siling labuyo, chopped
20 grams basil
250 ml coconut milk
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Sauté onion, garlic and luyang dilaw.
2. Add labong, chicken thigh fillet, bell pepper and siling labuyo.
3. Add basil and coconut milk. Simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.


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Yield: 4 servings

Laing Pasta, the Pinoy Pasta Version

I never tasted Laing Pasta until I had it at Goldilocks. I thought it was such a novel idea, similar to the pesto pasta that we often prepare at home. It is our own version of pinoy pasta. When I tasted it though, it wasn’t that delicious as I imagined it to be. I think the laing was too dry, lacked some meat and “keso”. I imagined eating laing with “kesong puti”. So here is what I prepared at home and made my own pasta laing a bit moist and added “kesong puti”

You will need:

1. Laing- To prepare laing, read my laing recipe and skip steps 4 and 5. Reduce the laing until you have the right consistency for the pasta. I am sure you have an idea on the consistency of your pasta mix.

2. Boiled Pasta noodles.

3. As a twist, use shredded “kesong puti” or cottage cheese instead of the usual cheddar cheese or parmesan cheese.

4. When serving the Laing pasta, serve the laing and pasta separately so one can choose to decide the amount of the laing or pasta.

Garnish with “kesong puti”.

Adobong Manok sa Gata

This boneless chicken cooked adobo style with coconut milk is my favorite adobo of all time. Yes, there are a 100 ways to cook adobo and this is one variation that reminds me of my childhood. Alessandra Romulo Squillantini, granddaughter of the late statesman Carlos P. Romulo and her husband Enzo Squillantini graciously this recipe that dates back several generations at a cooking demonstration at The Maya Kitchen recently.

It’s so simple to cook.

chicken adobo with coconut


450 grams chicken fillet

1?4 teaspoon salt

1?4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 pieces egg whites

250 grams breading

500 ml oil, for deep frying

15 grams garlic

30 grams white onion

30 grams ginger

375 ml fresh gata

30 grams chicken broth cubes

6 tablespoons pinakurat

15 grams malunggay leaves

60 grams green chilli


1. In a bowl, season chicken fillet with salt and pepper. Dip fillet pieces in beaten egg whites and roll in breading. Deep-fry until golden brown. Set aside.

2. Sauté onion, garlic and ginger. Add fresh gata, chicken broth cubes, pinakurat, malunggay leaves and cooked chicken. Garnish with chopped green chili.

Servings: Good for 3