It is the milky liquid
extracted from the grated flesh of mature fresh coconuts or reconstituted
from desiccated coconut (dried shredded coconut) and not the clear liquid
inside a coconut. Coconut milk is an important ingredient in the
cookery of nearly all Asian countries. It is used in soups, curries,
savory meat or fish mixtures and all kinds of desserts. It has an
unmistakable flavor and richness and should be used in recipes that call
for it. This should present not difficulty, for even in countries where
fresh coconuts are not available, it is simple to make.
Before cooking, it is strongly
recommended that you make all the coconut milk required so that you're not
stopped in your tracks in the middle of a recipe. Coconut milk is
extracted in two stages. The first yield being the 'thick milk', the
second ' thin milk'. Use a mixture of first and second extracts when a
recipe calls for coconut milk unless thick milk or thin milk is specified.
Sometimes they are added at different stages of the recipe. In some
recipes, you use 'coconut cream'. This is the rich layer that rises to the
top of the thick milk (or first extract) after it has been left to stand
for a while.
Using desiccated coconut : Many cooks use desiccated
coconut for making milk. It is much easier and quicker to prepare than
grating fresh coconut, and n curries you cannot tell the difference.
Put 2 cups desiccated coconut in a large bowl and pour over 2 1/2 cups hot
water. Allow to cool to lukewarm, then knead firmly with the hand for a
few minutes and strain through a fine strainer or a piece of muslin,
squeezing out as much liquid as possible. This should produce
approximately 1 1/2 cups thick coconut milk. Repeat the process using the same coconut and 2 1/2 cups more hot
water. This extract will yield approximately 2 cups of thin coconut
Using a blender : With an electric blender you save time
and a lot of hard work. Put 2 cups desiccated coconut and 2 1/2 cups of
hot water in blender container, cover and blend for about 30 seconds.
Strain through a fine sieve or piece of muslin, squeezing out all the
moisture. Repeat the process using the same coconut and 2 1/2 cups more of
Sometimes a richer milk is required. For this, hot milk replaces
the water and only the first extract is used. However, a second extract
will yield a flavorful and reasonably rich grade of coconut milk
that can be used in soups, curries or other dishes.
Using fresh coconut : In Asian countries, fresh
coconut is used and a coconut grater is standard equipment in every
household. Grating fresh coconut is easy if you have the right implement
for the job. There are various types of coconut graters; the most
successful one and the easiest to use, screws on to the edge of a table,
like a mincing machine. It has a number of curved, serrated blades that
meet at a central point like a citrus juice extractor. By turning the
handle with one hand and holding a half coconut in the other position with
the other, it is possible to grate all the white flesh with no danger of
slipping knives or skinned knuckles.
However, if you are able to get fresh coconuts and do not have this
sort of implement, use the electric blender both to pulverize the coconut
and to extract the milk First. crack the nut in two by hitting it
with the back of a heavy kitchen chopper on the middle of the nut. Once a
crack has appeared, insert the thin edge of the blade and praise it
open. Save the sweet clear liquid inside for drinking. Put the two halves
of the nut into a low oven and in 15 or 20 minutes, the flesh will
start to come away from the shell. Lift it out with the point
of a knife and peel away the thin dark brown skin that clings to the while
portion. Cut into chunks, put into container of electric blender with 2
cups mild or water and blend at high speed until coconut is completely
pulverized. Strain out liquid, repeat using more water and the same
To extract fresh coconut milk by hand, grate the pieces of white
meat finely and to each cup of grated coconut add a cup of hot water,
knead thoroughly and strain out the liquid. Repeat process a second and
even a third time, adding hot water.