Canned coconut milk vs Reconstituted Creamed Coconut
An ISO-standard can of Thai coconut <b>milk</b> is 400mL with 18% fat content, ie 72g of fat. This is exactly the amount of in half a block of <b>creamed coconut</b>, and I have read a bit about people reconstituting creamed coconut and used that as if it is coconut milk.
However, I found no discussion about how would canned coconut milk and reconstituted creamed coconut taste differently. Anyone have ideas?
Personally, I am not a fan of canned coconut milk. The cream (which separates in the can) has a strange, thick consistency (like chocolate milk in the carton) and tends to leave a weird coating in my mouth. Two brands I see regularly are Chaokoh Thai Coconut Milk (contains coconut extract, water, citric acid (as antioxidant), sodium metabisulfite (as preservative)), and Thai Kitchen Pure Coconut Milk has no preservatives (contains coconut milk, water, guar gum). Luckily, I live in an area where I can buy frozen coconut milk. When thawed, the taste/consistency is more like the product my mother and grandmother made from freshly grated coconut.
I just happened to have two pouches of coconut cream powder I picked up at a local Asian market. After reading your post, I decided to give them a try. Chao Thai brand coconut cream powder contains fresh (dried) coconut cream, glucose syrup, sodium caseinate, silicon dioxide and dipotassium phosphate. When mixed with warm water, it seems to clump initially and takes a bit of stirring to get it smooth. It has a mild coconut taste and slightly sweet. It would do well in either a curry or dessert.
Roxy brand unsweetened coconut cream powder contains natural coconut cream, maltodextrin, sodium caseinate. It mixes readily with warm water and the taste reminded me of milk from more mature coconut meat. It would be better in a savory, rather than sweet, dish.
To conclude, I think the coconut cream powders have a better flavor/consistency than the canned variety. Someone else may disagree, or maybe I just have weird taste buds. But in the absence of fresh coconut milk, my preference would be frozen then reconstituted, with canned being a last resort.
Creamed coconut has sugar added and as far as I know, coconut milk does not. One goes well in sweet dishes and the other one in either sweet or savory.
There's yet another product - coconut cream. I just tried a tetrapack (Kara brand). It has a thicker consistency than coconut milk, but not quite as stiff as the stuff that rises to the top of can.
I've used the powdered coconut cream. It's particularly nice to use when I only need a bit of coconut milk, since I can just pour out a bit, and put the package back on the shelf. It's also nice when camping. I haven't seen a solid block form of coconut.
So the rough equivalences are:
coconut milk - regular milk
coconut cream - evaporated milk
cc powder - instant dry milk
cream of coconut - sweetened condensed milk
I've only used cream of coconut once - for a Daizy Martineze PuetoRican style eggnog.