Coconut milk is an amazing ingredient that gives whatever you add it to a dairy-like flavor (without the dairy) and a tropical feel. Great in coffee, for yogurt, in sweet and savory dishes, and as a vegan substitute for many recipes using traditional dairy products.
Okay, we all know that milking a coconut isn’t a thing so what is coconut milk anyway? I can tell you it is not technically milk, but close it enough given its intense creamy texture and flavor.
It is made by grating the flesh of ripe coconuts and then pureeing it with water. Strain that mix using some cheesecloth and there you go, coconut milk! It’s not rocket science (which is great for all of us at home), but it is a little time-consuming.
While you can make it at home, it is super easy to run to the store to buy cans of the stuff. They can be found in the international foods aisle and in a pinch, the internet will help you out. Be sure to buy the unsweetened variety.
Coconut milk can add lusciousness to braised or baked meats, a richness to things like curries and a pot of lentils, any soup you deem appropriate to use it in, and other delicious things like sweets and cocktails.
Here are some delicious recipes using coconut milk:
- Coconut Cream Pie
- Thai Coconut Soup
- Cilantro Lime Coconut Rice
- Thai Grilled Shrimp
- Express Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
What are the health benefits of coconut milk?
Each serving touts protein, fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and selenium.
What is the difference between coconut milk and coconut water?
Coconut water is the liquid found in the center of young and ripe coconuts and it is not mixed with anything. Whereas coconut milk is blended with the meat of ripe coconuts and then strained giving it a higher fat content. Including the meat amps up its fat content making it rich and velvety.
Is coconut milk bad for you?
No, but it can be. It is a high-calorie food and high-fat food so consuming too much of it can be bad for everything from your overall health to your cholesterol to your waistline, etc.
Can you use coconut milk in baking?
Yes! If you find yourself fresh out of regular milk, it can be used 1:1 in baking. Keep in mind that it will impart a subtle coconut flavor to whatever you are adding it and keeping that in mind when it comes to flavor profiles is smart.
Are cream of coconut and coconut milk the same thing?
Cream of coconut is NOT the same thing. Do yourself a favor and do not use the two interchangeably because if you do, you will not be pleased.
What is that thick stuff at the top of the can of coconut milk?
When using the canned variety, you will notice a solid white “cap” when you open the can. This is known as coconut cream and is very rich and high in fat. This is meant to be used along with the more liquid milk below.
It can be a little tricky to get out of the can and a good vigorous shake before cracking the can open is something I highly suggest.