Chris Amirault

Cracking the Cream with Homogenized Coconut Milk in Cans

52 posts in this topic

I have been buying Chaokoh brand of coconut milk most often. I have yet to open a can that didn't have a thick layer of cream at the top. As long as you don't shake it before opening it is cracked when opened. I like to fry my curry paste in the fat before adding the liquid.

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I have had the same issues with splatter when trying to break the oil out of the coconut milk. I also use "Chaokoh" brand and do the same rotation mentioned up thread.

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.

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Frst of all, to those who doubt: I think you absolutely need to use coconut cream, not just coconut oil, for any Thai curry that calls for it (some call for simple frying in oil - some for boiling). It's the combination of the oil and the milk solids that gives it that incredible silky texture.

I don't think you can ever properly "crack" canned coconut cream. I've tried.

Really, this is your best bet...:

coconut_milking_sm.jpg

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I've seen packets and small cans of coconut solids at Grand Mart. Maybe you could use a combo of oil and solids to replicate this or perhaps try with frozen coconut milk?


"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali

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Further to the above, a couple of pictures of the coconut cream in the skillet, and then the cream starting to crack... this cream cracked extremely fast, it was about 3-4 minutes. I've had it take 15-20.

coconut_cream.jpg

coconut_cream_cracking.jpg

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i've never been able to get Chaokoh to crack either. Even using just the thick stuff that separates out. I just get white napalm all over the kitchen. I've resorted to frying teh curry paste in veg. oil, then adding the whole can of milk....

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Just another thought: I'm wondering if microwaving the canned coconut cream would speed up the 'cracking' process?


"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali

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A further note - I've never had much luck cracking Chaokoh coconut milk, even though it's everyone's recommended brand (Kasma, Su-mei Yu). However I noticed the other day in the store that Aroy D coconut milk lists ingredients as only "coconut extract, water." I.e. no stabilizers.

So I bought a can to give it a try.

The cream wasn't super-clearly separated from the milk, but that could have been because it had been in my shopping bag while I was walking around - or who knows how long it had to sit on the shelf and rest at the store.

I was able to crack the cream however by frying it at moderately high heat. It took 8-10 minutes, but it definitely separated. I've worked at separating Chaokoh for 20-25 minutes before giving up in frustration!

So maybe it's the stabilizer issue. Give Aroy D a try - and it would be great to hear if others have success.

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I don't think you can ever properly "crack" canned coconut cream. I've tried.

Really, this is your best bet...:

coconut_milking_sm.jpg

Man... You're going to make me do this, aren't you?

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It's actually fun! Just be sure you have plenty of coconuts (some may turn out not to be fresh), plenty of space, and plenty of time. Oh, and a Cuisinart.

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If you live somewhere where coconuts grow it is really not that hard to make. I lived for a number of years, a long time ago on small farm on the edge of the Carribean, and while running water and electric were scarce, coconuts were not. I made it almost on a daily basis for cooking drinking etc, and used the oil in my hair. (I still do). Moving then to the North East US, I found the coconuts that I could get were too old, dry and nasty to work. I tried canned milk and thought it tasted weird, and had a nasty texture, really smooth and slimy. However in Chinatown, I found and continue to find frozen coconut milk, mostly from Thailand, that to my taste tastes and behaves much more like the real thing than the can.

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However in Chinatown, I found and continue to find frozen coconut milk, mostly from Thailand, that to my taste tastes and behaves much more like the real thing than the can.

Ah interesting. I will give this a try.

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Hi all, I have been to Thailand and all of the cooking schools that I attended used the same method for the curries:

Add a few frops of oil to the wok and start to very gently fry the curry paste. When it starts ti get "going", add one tablespoon of coconut cream and gradually turn up the heat till the oil separates. Do this another 3 or 4 times, then add the remining coconut cream and continue with the recipe.

My experience is that I can get the separation reliably within a minute with any number of canned coconut creams or milks.

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Nice , will try this method ...


My initial flavor test was the classic, bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwich. Homemade bread, homemade mayonnaise, homegrown tomato (from a neighbor), homemade bacon. The only thing that wasn't locally grown was the lettuce. It was the best sandwich I've ever had!

Naturally, my expectations were high so I had a bottle of wine to meet that expectation: 1976 Lafitte Rothschild. Mmmmmmm.....

Really Nice Aug 10 2003, 11:22 PM

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I've tried putting the can in the fridge. That helps to solidify the fat and then it's easier to separate that out.

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The two parts in a can are NOT coconut cream and milk! It separates differently than that. The top part is more fatty and bottom part is really the watery part, but is NOT coconut milk. Coconut milk and cream are just different concentrations of the same thing - the cream having more of the coconut solids and fats per unit measure and less water - that comes from the first pressing of the coconut milk making process. The two components in the cans are something completely different and are simply a result of them sitting around on the shelves. Having said that, the solid part of the canned version can be used as a substitution for coconut cream.

I think the whole thing with the David Thompson book is rather silly and way over imagined. Most thai people use canned versions here, as the coconuts available are expensive and usually stale or even rotten. They fry the curry pastes in a little vegetable oil first, then add the canned coconut milk later. They taste wonderful!

Look for canned coconut milk that doe not contain anything but coconuts and water.

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Andie - just to be clear: you're able to separate canned coconut milk by heating it in the microwave, and then you're able to crack the cream? Which brand of coconut milk do you use?

I've tried to crack Chaokoh, Mae Ploy and Aroy D coconut milk and never had any success. Yes, the thicker cream is always there, at the top of the can. I boil the hell out of it, and it splatters and scorches, but doesn't separate. Curries made this way don't look or taste right. There is no layer of liquid fat on top, and the taste isn't right, probably because the paste is boiled and not fried.

Homemade coconut milk cracks wonderfully though, and curries made from it taste fantastic.

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Patrick - when you got the Aroy D coconut milk to separate, did you buy it in a can or in a tetra brick pack?

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seabream - I got it in a can. But I have to say I've had less success with subsequent cans of Aroy-D.

I now buy frozen blocks of grated coconut. Not as good as fresh, but better than canned. You don't get that powdery texture with the frozen stuff.

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Patrick - Good to know. Thanks. I will see if I can find blocks of frozen grated coconut at my local Asian store. I also want to try Aroy D coconut milk in cans - I wonder if it's different from the one in tetra brick.

I've only used Aroy D in tetra brick packs. Packaged this way, there is pretty much no separation between the milk and the cream, like I have seen in Chaokoh and Mae Ploy cans. The milk is a lot thinner than the one in cans, and in my opinion it tastes great. When I don't make homemade coconut milk, I fry the curry paste in oil, and then use Aroy D coconut milk to complete the curry. I like the results of this method better than using Chaokoh or Mae Ploy canned coconut milk, which, because I cannot crack, lead to an overly thick curry.

Kasma recommends using Chaokoh or Mae Ploy cans. In her curry recipes, she says to crack the thicker part on top of the cans. Leela also says that she fries the curry paste in the cracked cream, and she uses Chaokoh canned coconut milk. The green curry photo in the link shows that she has indeed been able to crack the cream. So if they are doing it, it can be done. I'm just not sure what the trick is...

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I attempted to make green curry last week and I totally forgot about this thread. Ended up burning half the "cream" in attempt to crack it and just ended up using another can and frying the paste in vegetable oil. Used Chaokoh brand. Was pretty good in the end but I do want to learn how to crack the cream without burning it

I bought some grated frozen coconut and some of the shredded "young" coconut and I'm going to try making milk from those and seeing how it cracks


Edited by takadi (log)

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I attempted to make green curry last week and I totally forgot about this thread. Ended up burning half the "cream" in attempt to crack it and just ended up using another can and frying the paste in vegetable oil. Used Chaokoh brand. Was pretty good in the end but I do want to learn how to crack the cream without burning it

I bought some grated frozen coconut and some of the shredded "young" coconut and I'm going to try making milk from those and seeing how it cracks

i would not use the shredded young coconut in this application, it does not have the oil content/etc of a mature coconut .

As in earlier posts the reason you cannot crack canned coconut milk is because it contains stabilisers/emulsifier, etc or had been homogenised. All the canned coconut milk i can find nowadays invariably contain those additives, including the chaokoh brand. Some years back, i could buy canned coconut milk without those pesky additives or maybe they just did not include them in their labels.

once you get the cream part from processing the frozen coconut, fry the cream over medium heat , and if it starts to burn then turn down the heat and/or add more cream until it cracks (see pic by patrick.. in first page of this thread,). . Once it cracks then add your curry paste, stir it until it cracks again, the oil would then have taken on the color of your curry paste, then continue with your recipe.

An alternative to cracking coconut cream is to fry the curry paste in coconut oil, which will enhance the coconutty flavor (other oils will not and may even impart undesirable flavors of their own).


It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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I only see citric acid and some preservatives in chaokoh, no emulsifiers like guar gum. Do the former ingredients prevent the cream from cracking?

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