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In South East Asia, coconut milk is used in their curry. It adds creaminess and milkiness to their often time hot curry. While you can try and substitute cream for coconut milk, the overall flavor is simply not the same. In the states, coconut milk is not commonly used for cooking. Getting the right brand can be difficult. Thankfully some thai brands of canned good make some excellent coconut milk for home use. Below, you will find a list of some of the best Coconut Milk for Curry.
What is Coconut Milk
Coconut milk is made from the pulp of aged coconut. Once the pulp is extracted, it is then pressed to extract all the oil. It is very similar to how olive oil is extracted from olives. There are two type of coconut milk with the thicker one having roughly 20-50 % of fat content while thin will have 5-20 % fat content. Fresh coconut milk needs to be consumed right away to prevent it from going rancid.
Canned coconut milk is pasteurized to kill off any bacteria. This will give it an overall longer shelf life. The coconut milk that you buy will most likely be pasteurized.
There are two types of Coconut milk. One is for cooking and another is for drinking. While you can drink the coconut milk from the can, the texture and fat content is vastly different. The coconut milk that is made for drinks like coffee will usually be sold in a paper rectangular box. Cans are usually meant for cooking.
Coconut Milk vs Cream
The main difference between the two cream is the coconut flavor. Both will add creaminess and thickness to soups, sauces and curries. While Cream is more commonly used in western cooking. Coconut milk is more common in South East Asian and South Asia. Its common for household to have cans of coconut milk stored. The good thing is that they hold a lot longer than fresh milk/cream.
In terms of health, Cream is a less calories than coconut milk. Per tablespoon, coconut milk has 34 grams of calories, cream has 29. Coconut milk has no cholesterol but cream has 10 mg. Interesting enough, coconut milk has lauric acid which can raise your overall Cholesterol Level. Other than that Coconut milk has a bit more potassium. I would give coconut milk a slight edge in terms of health. However, you should review the complete nutritional fact to best suit your need.
Best Coconut Milk List
Below, you will find a list of some of the best coconut milk on the market. Since there are variations in coconut milk, I have included a list of the different categories.
AROY-D Coconut Milk 14 Oz Can (Best for Cooking)
Aroy D is one of Asia largest manufacturer of canned food. If you are looking for Asian ingredients, you can trust aroy d for quality and reliability. Perhaps one of their most popular product is the coconut milk. This version is often used in Curry in South East Asia. However, you can use it wherever a recipe calls for it.
365 Coconut Milk (Best Buy)
While Aroy D is one of the best on the market, its a little hard to find. Luckily, wholefoods have their own brand which is organic and quite affordable. The best thing about this brand is that you dont have to climb a tree. Apparently, you cant get it otherwise.
So Delicious Dairy Free Shelf-Stable Coconutmilk (Best for Drinking and Consumption)
If you want to use coconut milk as a milk substitute, so delicious is a great option. You can use it in cereals, coffee or just drink it by itself. This particular brand of coconut milk is vegan friendly, non gmo and organic. Great for the health conscious out there.
Best Coconut Milk for Curry and Cooking Thoughts
Coconut milk is a great alternative to traditional milk and cream. For cooking curries like those in South East Asia, coconut milk is a must. However, you need to buy the correct type of coconut milk. The canned one are usually designed for cooking. It has a higher fat content and usually come with a different texture. Coconut milk for drinking usually comes in a paper container and contain less fat. They are not as thick as those in the can. Buy the one that best suits you.
Want to up your curry game? Check out our article on the Best Spice Set.