Kitchen Tips

Coconut milk – a flavour central to Thai cuisine

The rich and exotic texture of Thai cuisine is defined by the herbs, spices and ingredients it uses. Coconut milk is something that Thai cuisine cannot miss. It adds a note of sweetness along with a rich and thick consistency to most of the Thai dishes.

Coconut milk is the diluted cream pressed out from the thick, white flesh of a well-matured coconut.

It is traditionally made freshly on a daily basis in Thailand. To make coconut milk in large quantities, the coconut is finely grated and steeped in hot water and then squeezed until dry; the white fluid is strained to remove all the pulp. When allowed to sit for a while, the coconut cream (huagkati) rises to the top.

thai coconut milk

Photo courtesy of Richard Elzey used under the Creative Commons Licence ©

Coconut cream is also obtained by pressing grated coconut flesh without water, using a specialized, heavy piece of machinery.More hot water is added to the pulp and the process is repeated to yield a lighter fluid, or coconut milk (nahmgkati).

Coconut milk is the base of most Thai curries. The fat is first reduced over high heat to break down the cream and allow the oil to separate. The curry paste is then added and fried in the coconut oil until all the herbs and spice flavors are blended before the rest of the coconut milk is added to make the sauce.

Good coconut milk has a clean, white color and tastes rich, creamy and mildly sweet with the essence of coconut.

There are many Thai dishes that use coconut milk some of the most common dishes are Thai green curry, Thai red curry, Tom Kha Kai soup, coconut rice, coconut ginger fried rice, Khanomtako, Massaman curry, panang curry, Thai satay sauce and yellow curry.

how to make Thai Coconut Milk

Coconut milk should be refrigerated once the can is opened. It can be kept for a couple of days to a week . It is recommended not to freeze it as it may turn putrescent.Be careful not to buy sweetened coconut milk for Thai cooking. You can find coconut milk is most of the Asian markets or even make it at home when necessary.

5 Simple steps guide you how to make coconut milk at home:

  1. Take a fresh mature coconut and break it open with a cleaver.
  2. Grate it using a food processor or coconut grinder.
  3. Now take the grated coconut and add 1 cup water and blend till the coconut is ground well for a couple of minutes.
  4. Strain the coconut milk with a strainer making sure you get coconut milk without any shreds.

Repeat the process two or three times if you want a much pure and pristine coconut milk.

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