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Unsweetened coconut milk question

m
Marya Nov 8, 2006 09:06 PM

I love cooking Thai, but I'm never able to find unsweetened coconut milk and just about every Thai recipe seems to call for it -- and they make sure to insist that I avoid a sweetened product. I've tried several Asian markets in my area, but the cans never indicate whether they're sweetened or unsweetened. Am I to assume that it's unsweetened even if it doesn't say that on the label? The obvious answer is to just buy a can and taste it, but to me, the cans always have a mild sweetness because such is the nature of the coconut. Your thoughts? Thanks.

  1. Candy Nov 8, 2006 09:16 PM

    The stuff you are getting like Taste of Thai and the like is unsweetened. The sweetened stuff is the Coco Lopez type made for mixing pina coladas etc. My grocery the Thai type is stocked in the same area canned milk is stock. The sweetened with drink mixes. The plain coconut milk will have a little naturally occuring sugar inherent in the nut itself.

    1. m
      maviris Nov 8, 2006 09:23 PM

      I think cans that say "coconut milk" are generally unsweetened. They sometimes say "lite", which are versions with less fat. In my experience the sweetened ones are called "coconut cream" or "cream of coconut"... and these are usually in taller, more slender cans than the unsweetened milk. Trader Joe's sells coconut milk and Taste of Thai is one brand of coconut milk many stores carry. Coco Lopez is a popular sweet coconut cream. The ingredients might give you a hint too... since the sweetened stuff includes cane sugar.

      1. r
        ricepad Nov 8, 2006 09:42 PM

        In the grocery stores around me, the unsweetened stuff is found near the Asian foods, while the sweetened stuff is with the beverages, drinks and mixers.

        1. Robert Lauriston Nov 8, 2006 09:45 PM

          If you get Chaokoh, the most popular Thai brand in the US, it's unsweetened.

          I've bought a lot of different Thai brands and never encountered a sweetened one.

          1. p
            piccola Nov 9, 2006 01:31 AM

            You can also look at the ingredients. It should basically say, "coconut, water" or something like that.

            1 Reply
            1. re: piccola
              jen kalb Nov 9, 2006 03:20 AM

              thats right. If sugar, corn syrup or the like are not on the ingredient list, it is unsweetened. Coconut milk does impart a sweet taste to food even if no sweetening is added.

            2. y
              Youffraita Feb 18, 2007 12:58 PM

              Just wondering -- I bought coconut milk from an Asian store and liked it; then found that my local supermarket has Goya coconut milk. Would this be acceptable in SE Asian dishes when I can't get to the Vietnamese store? Does anyone have an opinion?

              1 Reply
              1. re: Youffraita
                AmandaEd Feb 18, 2007 03:17 PM

                I think that's perfectly acceptable. I think coconut milk is coconut milk.

              2. m
                MikeG Feb 18, 2007 03:29 PM

                I don't think the Goya is as good as the better Thai brands, but it's the "same stuff" broadly speaking But make sure you're getting the unsweetened. Using the stuff they make for drinks and baking in a savory dish would be, well, disgusting.

                It's also easy enough to make if a little time consuming, if you live somewhere where the canned just isn't available but coconuts are. There's also a powdered version that's at least as good if not better than the canned, which wouldn't cost much to ship and keeps a long time, for future reference.

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