If you’re a vegan person, then you must already love the coconut milk. Surely, you know how to use coconut milk. But what about the rest of us? Most of us maybe do not know much about the coconut milk. I, for example, got my first can of coconut milk just last week. I’m still reading on how to use it and what is the best way to take advantage of it. There’ s a beginning for everything. Right?
So, if you’re one of the persons who want to know how to use coconut milk, you’ve come to the right place. The first and most important rule is not to confuse coconut milk with coconut water. In another (future) article, I will also talk about how to use coconut water and about its health benefits. But right now, let’s concentrate on the milk, shall we?
Types Of Coconut Milk
“Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut. It should not be confused with coconut water. The color and rich taste of coconut milk can be attributed to the high oil content. Most of the fats are saturated fats. Coconut milk is a very popular food ingredient.” (Wikipedia)
I have found out that there are several types of coconut milk: there are boxes, there are cans, there are beverages or refrigerated coconut milk and then there’s powder. Let’s take a look of each of them!
#1 Canned Coconut Milk
- Full-fat canned coconut milk
It can definitely be found online to order at your home, but you can also find it in some stores and markets. I have read that the best brands of coconut milk have a thick cream that separates and rises to the top of the can. It’s good to know this when you’re a beginner and trying to find a good coconut milk brand.
- Light coconut milk
It is the most popular type of coconut milk, but, apparently, you can do it at home by combining one part full-fat canned coconut milk and two parts water. It is watery and not so rich in fat as the one above. It also doesn’t separate to give you the cream, on top.
You should definitely check the ingredients on each can you buy. While some brands contain just coconut and water, not all of the are 100% natural; they also include preservatives, emulsifiers, guar gum or stabilizers.
The most important thing to watch out when buying cans is BPA – Bisphenol A, which is an industrial chemical used as a raw material when manufacturing many products such as food cans, engineering plastics, and dental composites. (China is the most potential market for the BPA production and consumption).
#2 Boxed Coconut Milk
Similarly to canned coconut milk, cartons or boxes can also include just coconut and water, but they can also include several additives. Boxed coconut milk doesn’t have that much flavor. If you’re looking for real coconut flavor, try the cans. But, remember to check if they contain BPA or not.
#3 Coconut Milk Powder
This powder is made out of dried coconut meat. Usually, it is mixed with milk and other additives. You can also try and make it at home, by mixing it with water and make it as thick or thin as you like. Coconut milk powder can sometimes be found in cans, but mostly in packets.
#4 Coconut Milk Beverage
This is an alternative to milk and it is mainly used for drinking or in smoothies recipes. It should not be confused with canned coconut milk. It can be found in cartons, in the refrigerated sections, with other alternatives to milk. It should generally not be used in cooking recipes because it contains sweeteners, carrageenan, guar gum.
#5 Concentrated Coconut Milk
This one comes in the form of a paste, cream or butter and is made purely from coconut meat. It does not contain any additives, which is a great thing. It contains a lot of fiber, but it can also be mixed with water. When searching for concentrated coconut milk, look for glass jars or plastic pouches.
- Important! When buying coconut milk (or anything for that matter!) always look for brands that have no added sugar, no carrageenan, no preservatives and avoid BPA lined cans.
How To Use Coconut Milk When Cooking
Apparently, it’s better you buy your coconut milk straight from an Asian store. What happens if you don’t have one next to you? You try more brands, check out the labels and ingredients and start trying until you come across the one you like best. Do you know the best part of canned coconut milk? The cream sitting on top. You can use it whipped, just as dairy cream, it can replace it very well.
When talking about how to use coconut milk, people definitely say the coconut milk adds richness and flavor to every meal from puddings to breakfasts, soups, sauces or different dinners.
- How to make coconut milk cream at home?
- Shake the can very well
- Open the can and replace the dairy cream with coconut cream
Remember, coconut cream will have a certain flavor, so you should choose your recipes wisely and see that the coconut flavor blends well with the other ingredients. And yes, coconut is a versatile ingredient so you can use it in various recipes.
If you want to learn more about how to use coconut milk when cooking, you should check out a few recipes. For example, I find very interesting the soups or sauces containing coconut milk as a key ingredient: asparagus soup, coconut broccoli soup, ginger coconut milk soup, coconut red lentil soup, Thai-spiced pumpkin soup, spicy lemon coconut sauce. You can find a lot more recipes where these came from, not just soups.
Desserts containing coconut milk are also interesting. A particular one that caught my attention are the coconut macaroon pancakes. I love eating pancakes, especially with shredded coconut on top and honey. This one is on my to-do list in the near future. Take a look on how to use coconut milk in this recipe:
- 1 14-ounce can of coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons honey (or agave nectar)
- 1 /4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or all-purpose or regular pastry flour)
- 3 cups unsweetened dried shredded coconut
- scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 large eggs whisked in a medium bowl
- 1/4 cup natural cane sugar or brown sugar
These are the ingredients. You can find the whole recipe in the link above. As you can see, it’s not that difficult. Since I am a fan of bread (especially banana bread), I also came across another interesting recipe, roast banana-pumpkin breakfast bread. For this recipe (the link below), you require the following ingredients:
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup Myer’s dark rum
- 2 ripe bananas, unpeeled
- 2 cups cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
Learning how to use coconut milk in the kitchen, how to cook with it and see which are the other ingredients it blends and mixes well with, is a step forward for me since I like to experiment with recipes and always try new ingredients and new recipes and sometimes making them my own. So, with my following recipes, I will be sure to integrate coconut milk in them for that extra savory touch.
Source and feature image: pixabay