Everyone assumes that when a recipe calls for coconut milk that we all still know how to make it from scratch. Or take it out of a can. Well, just in case there are some dummies out there who, like me, have never made fresh coconut milk or gata for myself, here are the basics. I am putting this now as I am about to post some yummy recipes that need freshly made coconut milk.
There are two types of fresh coconut milk. Thick or first pressed milk. And thin or second pressed milk. To make “extra virgin coconut milk” or EVCO as I now call it, you have to buy a mature coconut (generally those that are just brown husk outside), and have the dude man at the market grate it. If your home still has one of those neat grating contraptions, then grate it yourself. For every grated coconut, add one cup of lukewarm water (not hot) and start squeezing to extract the milk. Keep going until the liquid is nice and thick. Strain through a fine sieve and if you are particular about removing all coconut bits and solids, pass through a cheesecloth. The bits and solids can alter the texture of your cooked dish. I happen to think they are fine but others might want really smooth coconut milk. This first pressing yields a nice milk that is NOWHERE near as thick and viscous as canned milk. Generally, you can thicken it further by boiling it down. The squeezing is rather cathartic, a good replacement for punching a dummy. You can squeeze the grated coconut from several nuts at the same time. Set aside the EVCO.
From the SAME grated coconut, add 1.5-2.0 cups of lukewarm water and start squeezing again until you have extracted the remaining milk. This process yields a thinner milk that is typically used at the beginning of the cooking process for recipes with coconut milk or gata. The EVCO is added to the dish at a later stage. Make your coconut milk and use it soon after you squeeze it. While I almost always encourage people to use the fresh alternative, this is not possible in areas where you don’t have geriatric coconuts readily available (think Juneau, Alaska or Paris, France for example) and you must resort to canned alternatives. Some canned alternatives are pretty good, but they do tend to be thicker than fresh coconut milk and you just have to adjust your recipes. I find canned coconut milk an excellent way to shortcut a decent shrimp or chicken curry recipe. At least now you know how to do it from scratch if you have to.
If pressed for time, a faster way to extract the coconut milk is grind the shredded coconut in a food processor instead of the squeezing by hand.
Kerala Stew Recipe
Meat (chicken or beef or mutton) â€“ 1 kg if you want a meat stew.
Alternatively it could be a simple veg stew or egg stew ( full boiled eggs cut into halves or omlettes sliced into pieces)
Cardamom â€“ 8 nos
Cloves â€“ 8 nos
Cinnamon â€“ 4â€ piece
Black Pepper â€“ 20 nos (reduce according to taste)
Spanish Onions – 2
Ginger â€“ 1â€ pieces a few
Green Chillies â€“ 4 (reduce according to taste)
Carrot â€“ 2 nos
Potatoes â€“ 2 nos
Curry Leaves â€“ 1 to 2 stalks
Coconut – 1
(You need to extract the coconut milk – first & second extract).
Cook the chopped meat first with 2 slit green chillies and some of the ginger. Chop the Spanish Onions, Potatoes and Carrot into medium sized chunks. Cook the potatoes and carrot chunks. Crush the spices to release the strong aromas and fry the spices in hot oil, then add the chopped onions, 2 slit green chillies and the rest of the ginger. Fry till the onions are slightly golden brown and glassy. Add the second extract of coconut milk and when it boils add the cooked potatoes and carrots and meat. Simmer on a slow flame for a few minutes. Add the first extract of coconut milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes on a slow flame. If curry is not thick enough add Â½ Tbsp of flour and simmer for a few more minutes. Serve hot.
Thanks Anupama for sharing such a wonderful recipe!
Magandang umaga po. para sa mga limited ang time, meron nabibili sa blumentritt market ng freshly squeezed gata. they are using mechanical press. meron nang ready made at pwede din na ikaw ang mamili ng cocnut tapos they will press/ squeezed it for you. P5 ang bayad sa pag squeezed gata ng isang coconut.
what is the brand for good canned coconut milk?
I remember back home, my aunt would buy some freshly grated coconut (what do u call that loud machine they use to grate the coconut?); extract all the juice/milk, then she would boil it until it becomes coconut oil, she then cool it down and apply it in her hair/scalp; massage her hair a bit, let it stand and wash. Viola that’s her instant “hot oil treatment” ! hehehe
Her sister-in-law will then make some “bukayo” ouf of the left over grated coconut! How cool is that!
Good afternoon, Marketman!
I just stumbled onto your blogsite and have been hooked! Your website is a godsend!
Quick question: After extracting the EVCO and coconut milk, if I extracted more than what I intended to use, can I freeze the EVCO and coconut milk AND for how long would you say these will be safe to store.
I would like to try and use fresh ingredients now after visiting your site, and just turn to the canned / bottled ones when really really pressed for time. :)
Keep up the good work! This site is the perfect answer to new foodies and cook-wanabees like me. No more Bridget-Jones nuked dinners. Yay!
Quillene, it’s best to use everything you squeeze while it is fresh, but if you can’t, freezing it should be okay for a week or two, though the resulting milk will be a bit different. Also, the thicker cream will rise to the top of the container before it freezes so when you defrost, you will see a marked difference between the thicker cream and the coconut “water”… Glad you enjoy the site, feel free to browse the archives as there are 1,600 or so posts in there…