This delicious ingredient is often mis-understood and under utilized. Come on a culinary journey and discover Coconut Milk.
I was taught as a young child that the clear liquid inside the coconut is the milk. However, I and many others were told wrong. This clear liquid is in fact coconut juice or coconut water.
Coconut milk, is actually the liquid extracted from the grated flesh of a mature coconut.
Unlike other nuts coconuts are actually fairly delicate and do not have a long shelf life. This is especially so after the outer husk is removed. Because the outer husks are thick and difficult for consumers to remove, they are generally discarded before you see the coconut in the store.
When purchasing a coconut in the store, choose one that is heavy. You don’t want one that is cracked or punctured. Give it a shake to be sure you are getting one that is still full of coconut juice. Also check that the eyes are not moldy.
Inside the shell, the thick flesh should be a pure white color. If the flesh is a yellowish color it is probably too far gone.
If you squeeze freshly grated coconut through a piece of muslin, you will discover the real coconut milk.
Today, you don’t need to squeeze your own, as good quality coconut milk is now available in the cans and cartons. You can also get coconut cream, which is thicker than the milk.
Your can of coconut milk, once opened must be refrigerated. It will generally keep for a couple of days. But if it is left at room temperature it will quickly sour and spoil. Alternatively it can be frozen for future use.
At extreme high temperature it may curdle, so avoid boiling it rapidly. Make sure you stir it to a simmering point.
Coconut is very high in fat, however you can now buy reduced fat varieties. Coconut oil contains monolaurins which have been found to be very powerful antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal agents.
Coconut milk is a staple ingredient of South-East Asian cooking. In most western countries coconut milk is used in curries for flavor, in hot sauces to regulate the heat and in desserts for added richness. You will also find coconut milk can be used as a substitute in many dishes – sauces; stocks; emulsions such as mayonnaise; hollandaise sauces.
Coconut milk is also fantastic in biscuits and cakes, ice-creams and confectionery.
Next time a recipe asks for coconut milk, use it with confidence.