Whipping up this traditional Malaysian toasted coconut paste is super easy.
Anyone can make a tired old curry with some chicken breast and pre-made sauce from your local store. But it's those secret ingredients that can take your usual Indonesian or Malaysian fare into something your friends will want to copy.
An especially fab ingredient is kerisik, a toasted coconut paste that looks a lot like natural peanut butter but tastes like a tropical vacation – minus the sand.
Even better, this stuff is totally easy to make, but it does require a bit of patience. First, you're going to want to make an extra trip to your local Asian or Latin market, because frozen coconut really works best here, and you're most likely to find it at one of these international stores. You can try grating it fresh or using dried coconut, but do you really want to deal with the hassle of scraping flesh from a coconut or the stale flavor of that packaged stuff? I didn't think so.
Empty a package of thawed coconut into a large non-stick pan with no oil, and stir it continually over medium heat. Keep doing this past the point when it becomes boring, but don't worry, because the end result will be totally worth it.
After you've achieved a golden brown color on the coconut, take it off the stove and let it cool down for a few. In the meantime, put on some tropical tunes and pretend you’re on a gorgeous beach in Bali or Penang. Transfer the coconut into a food processor and blend, stopping occasionally to scrape the sides down. Keep doing this until the oil begins to separate from the solids and it looks like natural peanut butter. And there you have it, friends: kerisik.
So, what can you do with this stuff? Just add a few tablespoons to curry dishes, like this Coconut Curried Vegetables with Rice
or Pumpkin Curry Soup