Once in a while, I crave the comforts of a creamy, milky soup. Everyday soups in my home are always the clear kind—light and simple fish soup with just lemongrass, ginger
and tomatoes. Plus moringga
leaves of course. But every so often, I like the rich and indulgent taste of milk in my soup. But I don’t mean evaporated milk or cream. I mean coconut milk.
Coconut milk is the milky-white, slightly viscous liquid which comes out from the meat of a mature coconut. It is not to be confused with coconut water
, which is the clear and colorless liquid of a young coconut. It is also different from coco nectar, which is the liquid which oozes out of the blossoms of the coconut tree.
How is coconut milk extracted?
A mature coconut is dehusked. This looks easy but not quite.
The coconut fruit is now uncovered. Yeah, the coconut nut is not a nut– it’s a fruit. It’s a fruit with a thick shell.
The hard shell is split open and the meat is then grated using the above primitive grater. It’s literally a stool on which you can sit and which has a metal grating device jutting out from the front end. Every Fiipino home has this device. The coconut meat is rubbed against the grater and the grated bits of coconut meat are captured in a basin.
This lovely Thai version of a grater just landed in my wish list. It’s pretty enough for decor. This is how a stool grater looks like. Public markets in the Philippine have the mechanized grater which grates coconuts for you.
The grated coconut meat is then pressed and the liquid is made to run through a sieve. You now have coconut milk which looks much like liquid cow’s milk.
Nowadays–thankfully– there are canned varieties which closely resemble fresh coconut milk in taste and texture. I always keep a can of coconut milk on hand in case nobody’s around to do the dehusking, splitting, grating and pressing for me. (I tell you, the whole shebang can be tedious.)
You’ll never go wrong cooking with coconut milk. It’s milkier and sweeter than cow’s milk. It’s particularly good for curried dishes. And it’s far healthier than cow’s milk. After all, it is what is made into virgin coconut oil or VCO
— the healthiest oil on earth. It has lauric acid
which transforms into the body into monolaurin, a powerful antimicrobial substance. It will gladden your tastebuds and protect your body.
Here’s a common Filipino vegetable stew recipe with coconut milk.