Think coconut milk is bad for you? Think again. Here's the skinny on coconut milk.
Indeed, it's high in saturated fat, but a number of independent studies have shown that its saturated fat is a good one. It isn't hydrogenated (not a trans fatty acid) and the chief fatty acid, lauric acid, is easily metabolized, which means it doesn't hang ar ound to become bad cholesterol. A fatty acid that has been found to be antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial, lauric acid is also abundant in mother's milk. Most importantly, coconut milk is the backbone of many cuisines around the world. For generations, people have led healthy lives with foods enriched by coconut milk. There's no reason why you can't either, so long as it's as part of a balanced diet. Go ahead and live a little!
In the Vietnamese repertoire, coconut milk is associated with southern cooking because that's where coconut palms flourish; the geography and weather of the central and northern regions are not great for coconuts. Coconut milk is indispensable for southern Viet treats like Indian-style curries, sweet soup snacks called che, and banh xeo sizzling crepes.
I don't make fresh coconut milk often and mainly rely on canned coconut milk, which is excellent. In particular, I recommend Chao Koh or Mae Ploy brands. Available at most Asian markets, both are creamy and rich. Mae Ploy is actually creamier. When you've got extra coconut milk, freeze it for another day. NEVER use insipid light coconut milk. And avoid coconut milk that contains weird emulsifiers that keep it smooth. Read labels!