Coconut Milk and Cream
At a glance
4 cups grated coconut
In a bowl, cover the grated coconut with with the boiling water (or milk for a thicker coconut "cream") and let it steep for 15 minutes. Using a strainer, drain the coconut and reserve the "milk." The coconut meat may be squeezed through muslin cloth or a double layer of cheesecloth to collect the rest of the "milk."
Both of these liquids are extracts from coconut and it is important to differentiate them from the highly sweetened, canned coconut cream (or syrup) that is used to make drinks called piña coladas. The canned cream is not a substitute and should not be used in any recipe in this series. Coconut milk is used extensively in curries and it is best when made from freshly grated coconut meat. But if that is not available, use dessicated, unsweetened coconut flakes and substitute cow's milk for the water. Coconut milk powder is now available in some specialty markets, which mixes well with water to make coconut milk. Canned coconut milk is also commonly available, but cooks should check the label to make certain that sugar has not been added.