Coconut milk is not the same as a coconut juice or coconut water. It is a white color cooking base derived from the mature coconut. Coconut milk is a common ingredient in many cuisines of Southeast Asia countries, especially Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia, etc. (for example the famous Thai soup Tom Kha Kai – chicken in the coconut milk).
Coconut cream is like the coconut milk, but contains less water. It can be used in many desserts and cocktails such as Pina Colada.
Fresh coconut milk, when refrigerated, and canned coconut milk, if not shaken, separates into two layers, with the thick (upper) layer being the coconut cream and the thinner (bottom) layer constituting the milk.
How to Make Coconut Milk
Making Coconut Milk from Fresh Coconut
Take two ripe brown coconuts and 3-4 cups of hot water.
Pierce the eyes of the coconut with a sharp knife and drain coconut juice into a mixing bowl.
Split the coconuts.
With a sharp knife, pry the coconut meat from its husk, then peel off any remaining brown bits of skin that adhere to the coconut meat.
Place the coconut flesh and coconut juice in a blender, adding three to four cups hot water.
Blend it to a smooth slurry.
Pour coconut mixture through a butter muslin into a pitcher. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible, and put the coconut milk to the refrigerator.
Making Coconut Milk from Desiccated Coconut
Empty an 8 oz package of unsweetened desiccated coconut into a blender and add 1 cup boiling water.
Blend for about 30 seconds and allow the mixture to cool a bit.
Place a sieve over a bowl lined with cheese cloth.
Ladle the mixture into the cheese cloth, fold the edges over the coconut meat and twist the ends to extract as much milk as you can into the bowl.
Discard the squeezed coconut meat and refrigerate the coconut milk that has been extracted into the bowl. Refrigerate the milk and use within 1 or 2 days.