Coconut milk is a staple in many traditional Thai dishes. There is no substitute for the texture and flavor of this substance, and any respectable Thai chef always has a lot of it on hand in his or her kitchen. Curry recipes using coconut milk are especially common.
Thai curry is a way of life. A large portion of the world’s population eats curry on a regular basis, and it has been a big part of Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, and Southeast Asian cuisine for as long as anyone can remember. Thai curries are usually more watery than their counterparts to the east and come in so many different colors and combinations that you could have one a day for a whole year and not have the exact same dish twice.
Long ago, people wishing to make a Thai curry used fresh coconuts pulled from a tree, but that is no longer possible for many of us. As a result, canned coconut has taken center stage and is available in both Asian markets and large-scale grocery stores almost everywhere. The coconut milk used in Thai cuisine is not the same as the coconut milk that many buy as a dairy replacement. This coconut milk is thicker, unsweetened, and is harvested by rinsing the coconut flesh with water.
Read on to learn about several Thai recipes using coconut milk and prepare to dive in.
1. Green Curry
Green curry is the most common and popular of all the different styles of Thai curry. It gets its green color from fresh herbs, including cilantro and Thai basil, or from makrut lime leaves or rind combined with green chiles. This dish is light and refreshing and offers a pleasant feeling of awakening thanks to the inclusion of galangal, garlic, and shallots. The coconut milk base is a wonderful broth for these flavors.
2. Red Curry
Red curry is usually quite spicy due to the often high number of chilies or large amount of chili powder in the red curry paste, but there are milder versions to be had as well. The beautiful, deep red color of red Thai curries is super inviting, and again, the simple coconut milk broth is a great backdrop for the flavors found here.
3. Yellow Curry
Turmeric is the star of yellow curry and is the spice that gives this dish its brilliant yellow color along with cumin. This is the Thai curry that looks most like its Indian cousin, but the taste is a combination of sweet and spice that is uniquely Thai. The subdued flavors in yellow Thai curry really allow the coconut milk to shine.
4. Panang Curry
Panang curry is red in color, but it is a category all its own. This particular curry is thicker in consistency than those above and is different from other recipes using coconut milk because, rather than using the coconut milk as a broth and primary base, coconut cream is drizzled as a topping when the dish is complete.
5. Tom Kha Gai
Not every Thai dish containing coconut milk is a curry, though. Another popular use of coconut milk is in Tom Kha Gai. This soup is a chicken coconut soup, and it is lovely. It’s a mix of various Thai flavors, and there are few who try it and don’t fall in love with it immediately. You’ll keep coming back for more.
Try These Recipes Containing Coconut Milk
If you are interested in becoming a seasoned Thai home chef, you should try to master all of the above recipes containing coconut milk. Again, these are staples of Thai cuisine, and perfecting them is a rung on your ladder to success. Many Thai people eat curry every single day, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t, too.
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