Cracking the Cream with Homogenized Coconut Milk in Cans
Posted 20 March 2011 - 07:58 PM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:10 AM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 05:59 AM
How do you do it, Jenni?
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:07 AM
I'm intrigued as to why you want to separate your coconut milk. D'you mind explaining ? I'm often using it in a context where I cook it till the 'fat floats free' on a sauce, just the same way we often do with a tomato sauce, and I think that means I'm seeing the oil separated. It's not clear to me how your 'oil' and 'solids' correspond to the (clear, watery) liquid and the 'solid' puck I find when I open a can.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:28 AM
There are a few different ways to do it: long simmering and then separating off or frying over high heat and then, when it cracks, adding the paste. I've never been particularly satisfied with either: simmering takes too long and the frying spatters hot cream all over the place. Gotta be a better way!
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:30 AM
You are making a Thai dish where the coconut cream is cooked with spices till it separates, no? I have to say that I do not know much about Thai cuisine! In all the dishes I use coconut milk, the milk is not supposed to separate out. So, my suggestion is only to find a non homogenised can, or to make your own. It's not hard, honest!
ETA: Ok, so you answered that question!
Edited by Jenni, 21 March 2011 - 07:39 AM.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:32 AM
You are making a Thai dish where the coconut cream is cooked with spices till it separates, no?
Actually, no! That's precisely what one doesn't want to do: you're boiling the paste in the cream until the cream separates. Instead, you want to separate out the oil and fry the paste in that.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:36 AM
Way back, after returning from the trip, I did a comparison between the different brands of canned coconut milk, and I like the Chaokaoh (sp?) brand best - when you leave it undisturbed, it separates quite nicely - in fact, if you let it sit long enough, the top inch or two becomes thick like sour cream works great for stir frying the curry paste before adding the rest of the coconut milk. So I buy a bunch of cans at a time in Chinatown where they're really cheap, and then just keep rotating the stock, letting the cans sit. When I start running low I'll get some more, so I'm never out of "old cans".
You can also buy coconut cream in cans (the cream is the green can, adn teh brown can is the milk). That's really good for drizzling in at the end, or if you have a lot of curry to make then you don't have to worry about getting separated cans.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:37 AM
Oh, i've always wondered why it was done! So basically you make your own coconut oil. That used to be done (in the same way) in South Indian houses, but I think most people buy coconut oil now
I'm teasing you, of course, I wish I could be more helpful. But maybe you could buy a block of creamed coconut and do it? I find that creamed coconut separates into solid white bit and translucent fatty bit, so it would definitely not be homogenised.
Edited by Jenni, 21 March 2011 - 07:40 AM.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:39 AM
When I buy coconut milk, the inside of the can is separated into a very thick top part (almost solid) and a watery bottom part. Is this what you are referring to, or a further separation of the top part?
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:50 AM
The other stuff is created by grating, soaking, and squeezing out the liquid from the meat. That liquid then separates into the cream and the milk. When you buy a can of "milk," you're getting a combination of cream and milk that, over time, will separate.
However, like dairy cream, coconut cream consists of both fat and other stuff. To fry curry paste, you want the oil to separate from that stuff, called "cracking the coconut." (That can obviously also refer to breaking the shell.) It's a very important step -- see this book for example -- that's often left out of Westernized cookbooks.
If you make it yourself (click for a topic about doing so), the cream separates very quickly and easily, and it's much oilier and thicker than the stuff at the top of the can.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:57 AM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:57 AM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 07:58 AM
Could you just use a good quality coconut oil to fry the paste?
Yeah, I think that's the next likely step. May need to head over to the West African store this week....
Posted 21 March 2011 - 09:12 AM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 11:22 AM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 11:26 AM
Edited by Jenni, 21 March 2011 - 11:27 AM.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 02:55 PM
Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:02 PM
I just leave it in the mwave to cool and the thicker stuff will float to the top and I can pour the thinner stuff out through the spout from the bottom.
The Philippine market sells a separator for coconut milk that is just like one of the plastic fat separators that has a spout in the center of the bottom that opens and closes and is similar to
THIS ONE but is not made by Amco.
I use a lot of coconut oil and have written about it in other threads. I use only the organic, virgin coconut oil and my favorite brand is
I go through one of these 54 ounce tubs in three months.
I buy it from Amazon via the "Subscribe and Save" program.
Edited by andiesenji, 21 March 2011 - 03:11 PM.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:33 PM
Would save heating the cream to separate the oil.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:44 PM
But back when I was trying to make sure I'd made things by the book a couple times before I go my own way I noticed that all brands of coconut cream I could find contained stabilizers, while many brands of coconut milk do not. For example, the most recommended brand of coconut milk available in the US, Chaokoh, includes carboxymethylcellulose in its cream but not milk. After burning the cream a couple times I realized it is better to use the thick, top part of the milk for the initial cracking step, but add coconut cream later on for richness (including a trendy, swirled dollop just before serving).
That being said, the oil is much easier, and David Thompson even says "if using canned, add a little oil when frying the paste: this will replicate separated coconut cream." I kind of do the opposite--start with coconut oil and add a little coconut cream after the paste starts to become fragrant, as the taste of the coconut solids cooked at frying temperature adds something.
Andie makes me want to find a microwaveable fat separator, though.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:48 PM
Chris, is this thread an attempt at putting off the inevitable purchase of a centrifuge? If so, just do it.
I wish I were that wily.
Posted 21 March 2011 - 03:53 PM
Posted 23 March 2011 - 09:24 AM
I have a set of Viking cookware that I normally use except when cooking green curry. Whenever I tried to use the Viking stuff, the coconut would seriously spatter before getting hot enough to break. Out of frustration I went back to an old Analon non-stick pan and the spattering issue was solved. I could get the heat up and break out the oil without wearing half of the coconut milk.
Posted 27 March 2011 - 04:56 PM
I don't think you can ever properly "crack" canned coconut cream. I've tried.
Really, this is your best bet...:
Posted 27 March 2011 - 05:22 PM
Posted 27 March 2011 - 08:28 PM