How do I prevent coconut milk from separating in Thai curry?

  • How do I prevent coconut milk from separating in Thai curry? ddysart

    It seems like every single attempt I've made at making a Thai-style coconut curry ends up with the sauce mixture separating. Although it usually still tastes good, the coconut ends up looking like it has curdled.

    My question is what could I be doing wrong? I've mainly been following the recipe on the side of the curry paste I have (Thai Kitchens brand, IIRC).

    1. Stir some of the paste with a can of coconut milk (I've been using Chao Koh) until that boils.
    2. Add some fish sauce and chicken broth along with the meat and vegetables
    3. Simmer until cooked.

    My suspicion is I may be using too much chicken stock. I usually use about 1-2 cups. The vegetables I add(typically bell peppers and onions) will also contribute additional liquid to the curry.

    My family and I love this dish, but I would really like to perfect its preparation. What steps can I take to prevent the coconut milk from separating from the curry?

  • Don't boil it

    There are many reasons why it might separate, depending on ingredients, but the obvious one is not to boil it, just simmer it after all other solid ingredients are nearly/fully cooked to your liking

  • When I make Thai dishes, the coconut milk goes in right at the end.

    I generally make my own curry paste, and it goes into the pan first after the oil is hot. The vegetables/meat/other stuff go in afterwards. Once those are all done to your satisfaction, you add the coconut milk.

    Turn the flame off before it boils, and you should be fine.

  • Even though it isn't really milk (in the dairy sense), coconut milk still naturally separates into a thick cream and thinner liquid like regular milk. As such, when working with coconut milk you should still follow the same procedures you would to make a milk-based cream sauce.

    The number one rule when making any creamy sauce is: DON'T LET IT BOIL! Boiling will guarantee that your creamy sauce (including sauces made with coconut milk) will break in some form or fashion. At most, you should cook these at a bare simmer.

    Other than that, there are some techniques you can use to keep your curry smooth.

    You could use an emulsifier like honey (common in vinaigrettes, where it is used to make sure the oil and vinegar don't separate), added toward the end of cooking.

    You could also use a thickening agent, like a cornstarch slurry or a quick roux. Curry paste is also a thickening agent. As a general rule of thumb, when making Thai-style curry I usually cook my vegetables in a little more oil than I think they need, then add the curry paste and sauté that until it has absorbed the oil (along with any dry spices). It will act as a roux for the coconut milk and make sure there are no lumps in the final curry.

    Lastly, cooking the curry uncovered at a simmer, stirring occasionally, will thicken it up nicely and help all the ingredients stay together.

  • If ever you need to add milk to a hot dish it is likely to either curdle or separate.
    The trick is to take some of the hot liquid, a couple of spoons should do, and put it into a small bowl. Now let it cool down a little. Then you add the milk to the warm liquid in the small bowl and beat it with a fork. The two liquids should incorporate without separating. You can then add this beaten liquid back to your hot dish while beating or stirring the gravy or curry all the time.
    This technique works for both fresh and coconut milk as well as for yogurt.

curry thai-cuisine coconut
Related questions and answers
  • I've been making this simple chicken soup dish for years. I learned it from my dad, who got it from my mother, and who knows how far back it went beyond that. But, I really don't know what its called. I'm curious because I'd like to look up similar recipes to get ideas on how to tweak it. We've always called it "goulash", but it doesn't look like the goulashes I've seen on the net. (Sorry about my terrible recipes. I never measure anything for this.) Soup: A couple diced onions 3-4 lbs of chicken (I usually use breasts. Not boneless or skinless!) A bunch of paprika (I just make it nice

  • the last remove from heat and just before whisking in the butter, I needed a call of nature. When I got back the mixture had separated into what looked like curdled milk and an oily fat like substance... off the pies gently, got rid of that problem. This is the first time that I have had such a monumental departure from a recipe I have been following (probably luck so far). But can anyone see... minutes. Remove from heat. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot mix into the egg yolks, whisking all the time. Add this back into the rest of what is in the pan. Bring to a gentle boil. Reduce

  • . Salting the pasta water. I've learned this trick some time ago and it has been critical to producing the best-tasting pasta. I really want the pasta to be the point of the dish, with the sauce... fulling draining the pasta after boiling. Adding starchy pasta water to my sauce. The starchy water really brings everything together. You could say it thickens it, but not like a roux, as some have speculated--rather, the starch emulsifies the fats into the sauce (consider if I have, say, tomato sauce, cheese, and olive oil) and it also adds a rich mouthfeel. I've really had great success adding some

  • ). A gas mark (UK) refers to the dials on some British gas ovens (Farmhouse Cookery). The marks from 1 to 9 correspond roughly to 275 - 475 °F (at 25 °F intervals) or 140 - 250 °C (at 10 °C intervals... or add additional items. The comments are getting long, so use answers for discussion of specific concepts if necessary. If you're not sure what a term means, ask it as a new question and tag it with language) Also see What international cooking terms sound similar but have different meanings? for similar issues with other languages. Vegetables: Eggplant (US, AU) is an aubergine (UK). Zucchini (US

  • Cracking coconut cream Jeremy French

    I have several recepies which call for cracking coconut cream (Thai curries). I used to just fry the curry paste and add coconut cream (or coconut milk) which produces reasonable results, but on reading the recipes again I realized that I was not making it correctly. My more recent attempts at starting with coconut milk have resulted in it being more poached than fried, still nice but I feel that I am missing something. As far as I can tell if you simmer the cream for long enough the oil should separate out and you are able to fry in it. But I can't seem to get this to happen. Am I being

  • for 30 minutes. Add okra; simmer for 10 minutes or until ready to serve. Here's some thoughts on possible problems: I usually cook it in a slow cooker once I have all the ingredients simmering. I've...I love gumbo, and make it about once or twice a month. However, I've noticed that my roux will occasionally separate from my stew and float up to the surface. I've sampled it, just to see if it had... going to go with Sobachatina's answer, until I can try it again. SOLUTION: Forgot to update this until I got pinged about a change on this question. The slow cooker made the roux separate from

  • Can I substitute green Harissa paste for Thai green curry paste in a chicken curry and in what proportions?

  • I've been trying for awhile now to make a bean-like paste for burritos/nachos/etc. akin to Refried Beans I so enjoyed while living in North America. What I've got so far isn't half bad, but I'd... or some kind of baked beans in tomato sauce, simply because I don't have to cook them at all i.e. I can eat them out of the can and they taste good :) Perhaps that logic is bad and I should be using... beans come out of their shells. Turn heat down to min; Drain off 3/4 of the water. Mash mash mash away. Add spices and mix; let water burn evaporate until consistency is to my liking. NOTE: I only

  • I've been enjoying my cookbook Fish Indian Style which I won in the Question-of-the-Week contest here on Seasoned Advice. However, I'm having difficulty with one common ingredient used in Atul Kochhar's recipes. Many of his recipes include pureeing fresh coconut meat with water or stock as a base for curry. As extracting coconut meat is rather ... labor-intensive, I'd like to simply use some spoonfuls of canned coconut cream, which is after all made from coconut meat and water. Two questions: How equivalent is this substitution? If a recipe calls for 250g of coconut meat pureed

Data information