Coconut milk is made by simmering equal parts water and shredded coconut meat, then squeezing and straining the thick liquid remaining. (Not to be confused with the liquid in the coconut, called coconut juice or coconut cream, which uses the same prepartion as coconut milk but a proportion of 4 parts coconut to 1 part water.) Coconut milk (nahm gkati) is the base of most Thai curries.
Unsweetened coconut cream is made in the same manner as coconut milk, only the ratio is one part water (or milk for a richer product) to four parts coconut.
Do not confuse sweetened cream of coconut (used for desserts and mixed drinks) with unsweetened coconut milk or cream.
Season: available year-round
How to select: Good coconut milk has a clean, white color, rich creamy taste and is mildly sweet with the essence of coconut.
Substitutions: 1 cup low-fat milk + 1/4 tsp coconut extract = 1 cup light coconut milk