coconut milk

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Also known as
Nariyal ka doodh, kghati

Description Coconut milk is not the juice found inside a coconut, but a further derivative from the cream process. To make coconut cream, finely grated coconut meat is steeped in hot water until it is cool enough to handle. It is then squeezed until dry; the white fluid is strained to remove all the pulp (coconut cream). More hot water is added to the pulp and the process is repeated to yield a lighter fluid, or coconut milk (nahm gkati). Frequently, a third pressing is done to obtain a light coconut milk (hahng gkati), which is used for stewing meats or for thinning coconut milk to make a coconut soup or a light curry. An average mature coconut yields about one cup of coconut cream and one to two cups of coconut milk depending on how light milk is desired.

How to select
Though there are several brands of rather good canned coconut milk now available on the market, freshly pressed milk will have a fragrant, naturally sweet and delightfully nutty flavor lacking in the canned.

Culinary Uses
· Coconut milk is the base of most Thai curries. Contrary to western ideas of working with cream, to make the curry sauce, coconut cream is first reduced over fairly high heat to break down the cream and allow the oil to separate. The curry paste is then added and fried in the coconut oil until all the herb and spice flavors are released and blended before the rest of the coconut milk is added to make the sauce. Finished Thai curries will have a thin layer of oil floating on top of the sauce.
· Used to make sauces and toppings for desserts.
· Substitute coconut cream by mixing 1 cup coconut milk powder in 2 cups of warm water.
· Coconut milk and cream will curdle, and if heated too much the oil will separate out. To avoid this when cooking, stir constantly over low heat, uncovered, and never let the mixture boil. Use a wide spatula and a lift-and-turn motion. In Indian curries, as soon as a thin film of oil rises to the top the dish is done. A bit of cornstarch helps prevent curdling.

How to store
Coconut milk should be refrigerated once the can is opened. It keeps for a couple of days to a week I do not recommend freezing coconut milk as this increases the likelihood of curdling when it is next used in cooking - unless you are just warming it through without boiling. Be careful not to buy sweetened coconut milk for Thai cooking.

Health Benefits
· Rich in protein and fosters normal brain and bone development.
· Since high in fat consume in moderate amounts.
· The principle fatty acid in coconut milk is lauric acid, which is the same fat found in abundance in mother's milk
· It is rich in total fat and saturated fats have been identified as potential risk factors in the development of a variety of diseases of lifestyle, such as heart disease, certain cancers, obesity and diabetes.

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