Coconut Milk: Santan glory


Coconut milk has gone through good press, and bad press, and is now riding the vegan mylk wave successfully. But we in Asia are quite familiar with this indulgent ingredient. Here’s all you know (and don’t) about santan (coconut milk in malay lah, be cool can?)

Coconut milk is a creamy liquid produced by grinding the meat of a brown coconut. It comes from the fruit of the coconut tree, which is native to subtropical and tropical regions. While it be used as an alternative to dairy products in many recipes and smoothies, but not all brands are created equal. Keep reading for more information about this delicious superfood!

What is coconut milk?

Coconut milk is the liquid that comes from the grated meat of a brown coconut. It’s also a popular ingredient in many recipes and drinks, but it’s not the same as coconut water. 

The meat of the coconut is either grated or cut into tiny pieces and then mashed with water. This produces a thick, creamy liquid that is filtered to get rid of any extra residue. I used to do this with my grandmother years ago. We’d buy grated coconut meat from the store and then sit in the kitchen squeezing the coconut flesh with water. This extracts the milk from the flesh. While there are many options for both coconut cream and milk available in stores, milk extracted by hand always tasted different. 

Making this at home is a good option if you want to avoid additives, as some brands may have preservatives in them. You can find directions for making homemade coconut milk here

Coconut Milk vs. Coconut Water

Wondering whether you should drink coconut water or use coconut oil in recipes instead of buying canned or boxed coconut milk? Although both products come from coconuts (the fruit), they aren’t exactly the same thing! Coconut water comes from young green coconuts which have not yet matured into hard brown nuts. This clear liquid contains electrolytes such as sodium and potassium that help boost your energy levels. This is when consumed during exercise sessions outside under hot sun conditions.

How and when can you use coconut milk?

If you’re looking to replace dairy milk with something that is rich and creamy, coconut milk is an excellent choice. This makes it a great substitute when you need to make a recipe vegan, lactose-free, and/or nut-free. You can use it to make desserts like homemade ice cream, or replace it with milk in smoothies. Coconut milk contains less fat than most other non-dairy milk.

For example: If a recipe calls for 1 cup of dairy milk, swap out 1 cup of full-fat canned coconut milk for the same amount in the recipe.

My favourite Thai dessert – Buo Loy – made with coconut milk!

Coconut milk is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. It can be used in smoothies, curries, overnight oats or as a dairy substitute. It’s also great for baking and cooking. I use it when I make vegan cakes – it’s a perfect substitute for yoghurt and dairy milk. You don’t taste the richness of this mylk in the end result, but get the rich, soft crumb without using dairy!

Is it healthy, then? 

Coconut milk has many health benefits, including improved cardiovascular health and digestion.

Coconut milk is rich and creamy in texture. It has an almost buttery taste that can be used as an alternative to dairy in cooking, smoothies and desserts. It’s also high in fat—but it’s good fat!

It’s high in lauric acid, which is converted to monolaurin in the body and can help fight off viruses and bacteria by disrupting the lipid membranes of these harmful organisms. Coconut milk also contains medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). These are easily digested and metabolized by the body, instead of being stored as fat like long-chain triglycerides (LCTs).

Contrary to usual reports that claim this plant milk is fattening, it can aid in improving cardiovascular health and digestion. The saturated fat content found naturally in coconut milk helps reduce cholesterol levels. It also improves heart health by increasing good HDL cholesterol levels while lowering bad LDL cholesterol levels. Additionally, its antioxidant Vitamin E supports healthy skin cells and helps fight against free radicals that damage our bodies over time. This helps when we’re exposed to elements like excessive sun exposure, or pollution from cars or factories. Living in a city, I know you know that this is a very real problem. 

Coconut milk has been linked to heart health, weight loss and even brain function. It also contains healthy fats that help your body absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A and vitamin E.

Because this plant milk is high in saturated fat (more than 50 per cent of its total calories), you should always choose unsweetened varieties when possible and limit your intake to 1/2 cup per day if you have high cholesterol or heart disease risk factors like diabetes or obesity—or if you have already been diagnosed with these conditions by your doctor


My favourite brands

I’ll start this part by saying that I am not a fan of low-fat anything. That essentially means that I won’t recommend going to ‘lite’ versions of anything. I use Ayam Brand coconut milk, not cream, from major supermarkets in Singapore. I used to use Kara, but I find that the milk goes better with the recipes I write and cook with.

If you’re using cream, then you just need to dilute the cream – 1 part cream to 1 part water. I would recommend pouring out the coconut cream and then filling the empty container with water to dilute the cream. The west has its own version that comes in a can. I can’t comment on this, because I’ve never used it before. 

So, what do you say?

With its creamy texture and rich flavour, coconut milk is a popular ingredient in cooking and baking, as well as being a staple in many curries. It is also a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, making it a good option for those who are lactose intolerant or following a plant-based diet. Overall, incorporating coconut milk into your diet is a simple and delicious way to enhance the flavour of your meals and reap the health benefits of this tropical superfood.

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