How to Make Coconut Milk from Scratch
We asked Louis Tikaram of LA's EP & LP to show us how to turn a fresh coconut into luscious milk.
All photos by Farideh Sadeghin.
We don't need to bore you with a lot of fluff about why coconut milk is great for your health, fucking delicious, a staple in Southeast Asian cuisine, and all the rage with hippie types who avoid anything that has spurted forth from a cow's teat.
Re: the fucking delicious part, though—that stuff you get in boxes in the supermarket is not so great. Often packed with stabilizers, flavorings, and even added sugar, it barely resembles the creamy, nutrient-packed stuff that any jerk with a cleaver and a coconut can easily make at home.
We met up with chef Louis Tikaram at his West Hollywood spot E.P & L.P. to show us how to be that jerk, and he was more than happy to oblige us.
First, you need to get your tools in order. You'll need a big-ass knife (a Chinese-style cleaver is great if your local authorities no longer trust you to own a machete), some muslin, three big bowls, and a serrated coconut meat-scraper. Yes, your milk-making station should look like a scene out of Saw.
Then you'll need a coconut or three, depending on how much milk you want to make.
Now comes the fun part: Hold the coconut in your non-dominant hand over one of the bowls. With your other hand, use the back of the cleaver to crack open the coconut, rotating it along its axis at the same time. Crack, turn, crack, turn.
Once you successfully break through the outer layer, you'll be rewarded with a pornographic sploosh of fresh coconut water. Drink it down, discard, or set it aside for later quaffing.
RECIPE: Homemade Coconut Milk
What you're really after is the oil-packed coconut meat. Coconut milk, like dairy milk, is a mixture of water and fats, and coconuts are chock full of fat.
Use a serrated scraper (you can find one on Amazon or a local Asian market) to extract as much of the white flesh as possible before reaching the outer husk. Place the meat in your second bowl.
Add a little bit of hot water—about a quarter-cup per coconut—to the meat. Stir is around with your hands and then spoon it all into some muslin set over your third bowl.
Gather up the cloth in your hands and start twisting and pressing that coconut meat. Just squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
In case you haven't noticed, making fresh coconut milk is a fantastic stress-reducing exercise.
Transform your frustration into luscious liquid, and enjoy your very own freshly made milk in a curry, a piña colada, or all by itself.