We often have customers who buy our curry pastes ask us, "Do I have to use coconut milk?"
The answer is "absolutely not"! There are other options, depending on one's concern about said milk.
So - what ARE the top concerns?
#1 High calorie/fat content. (Yes, it's true. One cup of unctuous, undiluted coconut milk packs a whopping 440 calories/48gm of fat vs 125 calories/8gm of fat for whole cow's milk.)
#2 An aversion to the taste of coconut milk.
#3 Low protein content (compared to dairy or soy milk)
#4 Not always having coconut milk handy.
#5 Plain, simple curiosity.
Not all milks are made the same and here, we share 4 substitutes for full-fat coconut milk.
1) Low Fat / Diluted Coconut Milk
If you're counting calories but can't bear to sacrifice the fabulousness of a coconut milk Thai curry, then this is the hack for you. Use low fat coconut milk, a diluted (sugar free) coconut milk beverage or simply substitute 1/3 water for full fat coconut milk (ie if the recipes calls for 1 cup coconut milk, use 2/3 coconut milk and 1/3 water instead).
What results, unfortunately is a thinner curry, so we recommend adding a piece of pumpkin or sweet potato, cooking it till it's soft then mashing it up. This thickens the curry and also adds a lovely sweetness.
2) Cow's Milk
Lower in calories and perfect for curry in a hurry (when you've got a curry craving, and there's curry paste but no coconut milk). Be careful when using dairy as the higher protein content can cause it to split or curdle from heat and/or acid (100% natural and organic curry pastes usually contain an acid regulator like lime juice or citric acid). To combat this, use a whole milk rather than a low fat one (higher fat = more stability), at room temperature, and cook over a low heat.
3) Nut Milk
Nut milks are all the rage and good news is they go great in a curry. Use your favourite - almond, cashew, macadamia. Store bought or home made is fine, but preferably sugar-free. The downside is that nut milks tend to be quite thin, so use the same thickening hack recommended in option 1.
4) Soy Milk
Soy milk is great for the lactose intolerant, and has a thicker, creamier texture than nut milk. The flavour can be a little odd in curries, but if you're drinking soy cappuccinos, you'll probably be fine with soy green curry!
There you go. 4 great full-fat coconut milk substitutes for the fat-fearing, the coconut milk-hating and the curious!
Check out the Mekhala Thai Curry Pastes that inspired this post!