There are many cookery ideas behind the coconut and I’d like to break them down. Most of this knowledge comes from reading Alan Davidson’s Seafood of Southeast Asia. This book is an incredible reference not only for fish lovers, but for very simple Southeast Asian recipes.
Coconut oil is not to be confused with coconut juice or coconut cream or coconut milk.
Coconut water or juice comes from the liquid inside a fresh coconut.
Coconut cream and coconut milk are similar, yet different. These come from the white flesh of the coconut. There is a process. The white flesh is taken out, grated and then water is added. The mixture is then squeezed through a muslin or similar cloth. The first extraction is coconut cream. If the process is followed again, with the same grated coconut, the second extraction is coconut milk.
Since coconut cream and milk are often called for in curries, it’s important to note the following. Davidson recommends to never cover the pot when cooking with coconut cream. Before boiling pot is reached, reduce the heat and start stirring with a down-up motion. Go on stirring thus after the mixture has come to a gentle boil. Otherwise the coconut cream will curdle.
On that note, go make some curry.