Coconut milk tastes bland


I have been attempting to use coconut milk in both a curry and a rice recipe. I am aiming for a rich and smooth texture, but it keeps coming out bland and watery. Are there any particular methods of using coconut milk that I should be aware of? Does heating it for too long or too hot break down the flavor?

I used the following brand of coconut milk.

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In the most recent recipe I used 2 chicken breasts, cubes. 2 tablespoons of coconut oil. 2 tablespoons of green curry paste, 2 cups of eggplant diced, 1 sliced red pepper, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, 1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce, 2 tablespoons of sugar.

In a stock pot I heated the oil and added the curry paste, then the chicken. Then I added the entire can of coconut milk. Allowed it to reach boiling and then reduced to a simmer. I added the vegetables in and continued simmer for 40 minutes. I then added the fish sauce and sugar and served it.

Best Answer

First off, that probably isn't the best brand of coconut milk. I've never been that impressed, and Cook's Illustrated's review agrees, saying it was "too 'liquid-y' and 'thin'". They like Aroy-D, Roland, Goya and Chaokoh better as of May 2017.

But on top of that, you probably got a lot of water from the eggplant. It's mostly water, and it releases plenty of it as cooking breaks down the structure.

I might try stir-frying the eggplant first, or roasting if you prefer, then adding it to the curry at the end. That way the liquid will be pretty much just coconut milk.

If it still seems too watery, you could do the same for other ingredients. Chicken breasts can release some water, and peppers too, but nowhere near what you get from eggplant. This does let you make sure they're cooked exactly as much as you want, so you might like it regardless of the watery issue.

You can also always just add more curry paste. Often the ratios suggested on storebought curry paste yield a less flavorful curry than what you probably get in restaurants.

To answer your side questions: long cooking is fine, and you don't have to do anything special to coconut milk to make it work.