Asian countries, particularly in Southeast Asia, produce many dishes with the use of coconut milk. From the delicious “Nasi Lemak” of Malaysia to the savory “Phanaeng or Panang curry” of Thailand, coconut milk plays a big part on its traditional ingredients. It can also be often used as an ingredient to a marinade like beef and chicken satay. I know I used it when I marinated my “Lime-in-the-Coconut Drumsticks.”
Coconut milk is the liquid extracted from grated meat of matured coconut, but not to be mistaken for the water that comes out when cutting open a coconut. In most Asian countries, fresh coconut milk is produced by hand by squeezing the grated coconut meat through cheesecloth.
Commercially produced or canned coconut milk is also available and it is more popularly consumed in most western countries like the United States and in Europe. Although they are canned, the milk only last for a few days refrigerated after opening.
Coconut milk comes in different forms. You should always check the label of the can for its fat contents because the higher the fat contents, the more coconut cream it contains; hence, it is thicker. The Fat contents I’ve seen and used range between 6 percent all the way to 26 percent, so be sure to pay special attention to what the recipe requires.
In the Philippines, coconut milk is not only used in savory dishes like “Crabs in Coconut Milk (Ginataang Alimango),” but it is also a main ingredient in many sweet dishes like “Ginataang Mais (Sweet Corn in Coconut Milk).” See some of the dishes below where coconut milk was used and the more detailed video on “How to Buy Coconut Milk” — courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School.