A comforting and not-too-sweet dessert of breadfruit (ulu) simmered in a lush coconut milk sauce. Cozy and warm, eat it hot with a spoon!
Breadfruit ('Ulu) With Coconut Milk
'Ulu is the Hawaiian word for Breadfruit.
Breadfruit seems to grow everywhere in Hawaii! It's a staple starch that has recently become more and more trendy. You'll find breadfruit on the menu of many restaurants in Hawaii, prepared in different forms. You'll find fried, steamed, buttered, and baked ulu...the options are endless. There's even ulu mochi!
Like all starches, breadfruit can be served in both savory and sweet forms.
Today's we're making a dessert! Breadfruit simmered with sweet coconut milk is one of my favorite ways to eat breadfruit.
It's a warm and cozy pudding / sweet soup type of dessert that we often make on colder days.
Why This Recipe Works
This dessert combines two key ingredients that are very popular in Hawaii: breadfruit and coconut milk!
Much like taro with coconut milk, breadfruit and coconut milk are complimentary flavors. They go together beautifully.
This dessert is "very Hawaii" in that it draws from multiple cultures:
- Vietnamese - Similar to Vietnamese tapioca dessert: Banana Tapioca and Purple Sweet Potato Tapioca.
- Chinese - Like taro tapioca (one of my go-to desserts at Chinese restaurants in Hawaii!)
- Samoan - Almost like a sweet dessert version of Fa’alifu.
This combo of different influences make this dessert 100% Hawaii. Our islands are a true melting pot of cultures.
The breadfruit is first steamed (or boiled) and cubed. Then slowly simmered with coconut milk. Breadfruit is starchy and this dessert turns it almost creamy, practically melt in your mouth!
We sweeten with just a little sugar and a touch of salt for balance. It's easy to make and but feels like a sophisticated dessert. Serve it in small bowls and eat with a spoon. It's quite rich, a real delight ^_^
- Breadfruit (ulu) - If using fresh breadfruit, prepare it at home (quarter the breadfruit, remove the core, steam, and then peel off the skin). To make things earlier, you can also may purchase par-steamed and peeled breadfruit from Hawaii 'Ulu Cooperative. They sell the breadfruit frozen so you can keep a bunch in the freezer and use as needed.
- Coconut Milk - Our go-to coconut milk brand is Chaokoh. Use full-fat coconut milk (do not use lite or low-fat coconut milk).
- Sugar - Just plain white sugar, no need anything fancy.
- Salt - We usually use Hawaiian Sea Salt because that's what we have available, feel free to use any type of salt.
Step by Step Directions
This recipe calls for steamed, peeled and cubed breadfruit. If you're starting with a whole fresh breadfruit, please prepare it in advance for this recipe.
Note: You'll need mature ulu (not ripe or super ripe) for this recipe. Ulu has a potato-like texture at the mature stage.
Place the cubed breadfruit into a medium pot. The breadfruit should be fully cooked, and at either warm or room temperature.
Turn the heat to low and pour in the coconut milk.
Gently mix and then place the lid on the pot. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve.
Simmer for another 5 minutes. Spoon into individual dessert bowls and serve hot.
So easy, right? The "hardest" part is just preparing the breadfruit which is not actually that hard ^_^
FAQs and Tips
2-3 days in the refrigerator, in a sealed container.
If you like this recipe, try making the same dessert but using taro (kalo). Here's our recipe for Taro With Coconut Milk.
Other puddings and sweet soup types of dessert, check out Banana Tapioca (Che Chuoi), Almond Tofu, Vietnamese Mung Bean Dessert (Che Dau Xanh), and Purple Sweet Potato Tapioca. We love sweet soups from all different cultures and will be posting more sweet soup recipes soon.
Many! Here are savory recipes using coconut milk:
- Luau Stew
- Chicken Adobo
Here are sweet recipes using coconut milk:
- Strawberry-Haupia Agar Agar
- Butter Mochi
- Banana Tapioca (Che Chuoi)
- Vietnamese Mung Bean Dessert (Che Dau Xanh)
- Purple Sweet Potato Tapioca
As long are you're getting breadfruit somehow, there's no right or wrong answer to this.
Frozen breadfruit usually comes cooked and cubed (or quartered) so that makes cooking much easier. Just place it in the pot, add coconut milk and simmer.
Fresh breadfruit is a beautiful thing, but requires more work. Sometimes we get lucky and my uncle will bring over a bunch of breadfruit. It's fun to see giant balls of breadfruit rolling around the kitchen counter heheh.
Prepping breadfruit is not hard, it just takes time. Prepare a lot at once (freeze the extra) so that it's ready for cooking when the craving hits ^_^
Breadfruit (Ulu) With Coconut Milk Recipe
See below and enjoy!
- Place the cubed breadfruit into a medium pot. The breadfruit should be fully cooked, and at either warm or room temperature.
- Turn the heat to low and pour in the coconut milk.
- Gently mix and then place the lid on the pot. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add sugar and salt. Stir to dissolve.
- Simmer for another 5 minutes. Spoon into individual dessert bowls and serve hot.
Breadfruit (ulu) has 4 general stages of maturity (baby, mature, ripe, and baker's ripe). This recipe calls for mature breadfruit. Breadfruit has a potato-like texture at the mature stage.
A few great guides to breadfruit can be found at Hawai‘i ‘Ulu Cooperative and the Breadfruit Production Guide from Hawaii Department of Agriculture.