Recipe: homemade coconut milk
Since discovering a pretty severe dairy allergy last year, I've completely overhauled my diet and my cooking. The results in my health have been remarkable, but it was not without it's challenges. I've always known I couldn't tolerate milk and lactose, but completely eliminating dairy from my diet left me feeling honestly, quite deprived. I began searching for recipes I could make at home that would satisfy my desire for the creamy, rich foods I was missing.
Asian fare perfectly fit that bill. I found so many recipes with bold flavors and creamy broths that weren't dairy based. Coconut milk became a staple in my house. And please don't get my wrong... I have nothing against a can of coconut milk. (Trader Joes lite coconut milk is my favorite and a bargain at $1.29 a can). It's my go-to for a quick week night dinner.
But when time allows, I found that making fresh, homemade coconut milk from a whole coconut is one of the easiest ways to take any dish your making to a whole new level. And it couldn't be easier! A little time consuming, but trust me... so worth it!
To begin, get yourself a coconut! Give it a shake- you should hear the water inside. If you don't, you don't want it, it's not fresh. Crack your coconut open by giving it a few good whacks with the back of a heavy cleaver.
As soon as you see a sizable crack, position the coconut over a small bowl to catch the liquid, and use the tip of the cleaver to expand the crack and drain. Split the coconut open and reserve the liquid.
Gently loosen the coconut meat from both halves of the shell. Use a sharp vegetable peeler to remove the outer dark skin from the coconut pieces and give them a good rinse in clean, cold water. You are left with perfect, pure coconut meat.
Place the coconut meat into a food processor and process on HIGH to begin breaking it down. Add the reserved coconut water and process. This will take 5-10 minutes on HIGH. While processing, add additional 1-1 1/2 cups of water to keep the coconut moving and help to break it down as it processes. It should have a fluffy, pulp-like consistency when complete.
Strain the coconut pulp through cheesecloth. Gather the cheesecloth and wring out all of the beautiful liquid. This is the fresh coconut milk so take your time to get every bit you can. Depending on size, you should yield approximately 2 cups of fresh coconut milk. Use immediately (I recommend) or store up to two days, covered in an airtight container in the fridge.