Make these recipes with coconut cream and coconut milk for a sweet taste of the tropics in your home. Our coconut cream and coconut milk recipes include everything from Burmese coconut rice and Cambodian grilled corn with a coconut sauce to Thai sticky rice with coconut cream and coconut milk based soups and curries such as Singapore laksa.
Our recipes with coconut milk and coconut cream will give you a sweet taste of the tropics if you’re missing travelling in Southeast Asia and are not yet ready to book a foodie trip. These coconut milk and coconut cream recipes cover the gamut of Southeast Asian dishes, from Asian desserts and street food snacks to noodle soups and spicy curries.
We’ve got everything for you from recipes for kaya coconut jam for the quintessential kopitiam breakfast of Malaysia and Singapore, and coconut-based desserts, such as banana coconut tapioca pudding, to Burmese coconut rice and Southeast Asian curries and soups made with coconut milk and coconut cream, such as an ohn no khao swe recipe for Burmese chicken coconut noodle soup.
Before I tell you all about our recipes with coconut cream and coconut milk, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to buy travel insurance, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, book accommodation, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. You could also browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images.
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Recipes with Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk for a Rich Taste of the Tropics at Home
Just a couple of tips before we share our recipes with coconut cream and coconut milk. While fresh is always best, fresh grated coconut might be tricky to find depending on where you live, unless you can get hold of some coconuts, and in that case, you can press your own coconut cream and coconut milk. If at all possible, buy fresh coconut cream or milk from the market.
As many of our readers probably can’t do that, our recipes with coconut cream and coconut milk usually list tinned coconut milk and canned coconut cream under Ingredients in recipes, along with dried grated coconut or desiccated coconut.
For a quality canned coconut cream we like Ayam from Malaysia or Chaokoh from Thailand (link in the previous paragraph), while this canned organic coconut cream comes highly recommended. A tip: if you only want to use the creamy part of the coconut cream, which rises to the top, don’t shake the can before opening it.
Recipes with Coconut Cream and Coconut Milk for a Taste of the Sweet Tropics
Burmese Coconut Rice Recipe
This easy Burmese coconut rice recipe makes a deliciously addictive turmeric-tinted rice, made with coconut milk and scented with cinnamon and cloves, that’s made for rich Burmese curries. I adapted it from a traditional Burmese recipe in Cook and Entertain the Burmese Way (1978) by Mi Mi Khaing, which calls for cooking over embers, but indicates an electric rice cooker is suitable. While it might lack the smoky aromas you’d get from cooking over fire, it still has plenty of perfume and flavour from the coconut milk, cloves, cinnamon, and bay leaves. The first step in Mi Mi Khaing’s Burmese coconut rice recipe is to “grate coconut and extract milk in this way: put in fine cloth, knead, set aside thick milk. Add ½ cup hot water, knead, set aside liquid. Repeat with more water til total of 8 cups liquid is obtained.” What the cookbook author is describing is the traditional method of extracting coconut cream (‘the first press’) and coconut milk (‘the second press’) used here in Southeast Asia. If you have access to fresh coconuts, try that. There’s nothing like fresh coconut cream and coconut milk. It’s nowhere near as sweet as the canned coconut cream or milk. For the “fine cloth”, use muslin, light cotton or linen, and squeeze rather than knead. Otherwise, open a tin of coconut milk and use the measuring cup that came with your rice cooker to measure the cup of coconut milk and cups of rice. And, yes, you could use coconut cream for an extra rich rice, however, we think it’s delicious enough with coconut milk.
Thai Mango Sticky Rice Recipe
This Thai mango sticky rice recipe by chef David Thompson from his Thai Street Food cookbook makes the much-loved Thai dessert kao niaw mamuang. Despite the detailed recipe notes it’s nowhere near as intimidating as it looks and this jasmine scented sweet will take you back to eating on the streets of Thailand. Making chef David Thompson’s mango sticky rice recipe with coconut cream from his Thai Street Food cookbook became my mission after the mango rains started. While I’m the kind of person who prefers to have too much information rather than too little, it was precisely the chef’s exhaustive notes, from how to peel mangoes the Thai way to perfuming the coconut cream that had intimidated me a little. It would turn out that I had nothing to worry about. It turned out perfectly if a tad too sweet for me. I messaged the chef to ask whether all the sugar was necessary with sweet fresh coconuts or sweetened tinned coconut cream. “The sugar is necessary. Plain coconut cream just doesn’t do. I recommend it,” David said. I’m not one to argue with a master of Thai cuisine.
Banana Coconut Tapioca Pudding Recipe
This banana coconut tapioca pudding recipe makes Cambodia’s chek ktis – chek means banana in Cambodia’s Khmer language, and ktis, or more correctly k’tis or k’tiss, means coconut and covers coconut milk and coconut cream – a sweet and creamy aromatic dessert of stewed banana in coconut milk and tapioca pearls, sweetened further with palm sugar, and perfumed with star anise. Garnish with grated coconut, add a drizzle of coconut cream, and sprinkle with white sesame seeds and black sesame seeds before serving. It’s a deliciously simple yet much loved Cambodian dessert. If you travelled to Siem Reap prior to the pandemic and dined at one of its many outstanding Cambodian restaurants, chance are high that if you saved room for dessert, you tried a variation of this banana in coconut milk with tapioca or sago. If you did a Cambodian cooking class in Siem Reap, then there’s an even greater chance that this was the dessert you made and you probably have a recipe in the little cookbook you were given at the end of the class. Try our recipe. It’s sweet Cambodia in a bowl and it’s sublime.
Kaya Coconut Jam Recipe for Kaya Toast
This kaya coconut jam recipe makes the sweet spread for kaya toast just like you’d find in a traditional Singaporean or Malaysian kopitiam. A simple recipe with just a few ingredients – eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves – it’s nevertheless slow-going for a smooth, creamy spread, as you have to temper the eggs and stir the coconut cream, sugar and egg mixture slowly over low heat to achieve a thick creamy spread. But it’s worth it. To make the quintessential breakfast in Singapore and Malaysia of the sweet, creamy coconut, sugar and egg spread slathered on white-bread toast and typically served with soft-boiled eggs, soy sauce and white pepper, and syrupy coffee at traditional kopitiams (coffee shops), you’ll also need this recipe for kopitiam-style half-boiled eggs. And you’ll need a double boiler of sorts, ie. a ceramic mixing bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. You can also pop the bowl in a flat bottomed wok. The beauty of the double boiler – or the bowl on a pot or in a wok – is that the heat is more evenly distributed.
Grilled Corn Recipe with a Coconut Milk Sauce
This smoky grilled corn recipe makes poat dot, a Cambodian street food snack of barbecued corn on the cob that’s continually brushed with the creamy salty-sweet sauce as it’s being barbecued. While I love eating this on the street I prefer making it at home. It’s super easy and when you make this street food favourite yourself, you can not only cook the corn to your liking – we prefer our corn cobs more charred than it’s sold on the street – but you can also make sure you get the sauce balanced to your taste (it’s often too sweet for me when done on the street) and you can serve extra sauce on the side. We recommend Thailand’s Megachef for a top quality fish sauce for most Southeast Asian recipes, as its sodium levels are always consistent. Megachef is easy to find in Australia, however, our American friends often recommend Red Boat Fish Sauce. Terence grills our corn over a traditional clay brazier just like most Cambodians do, and uses coconut charcoal BBQ briquettes. When we can’t cook outside we’ll use a stovetop Korean BBQ grill pan or griddle pan on the stove. If we were in Australia, I know Terence would be using one of these outdoor barbecue or grills.
Cambodian Minced Pork and Coconut Milk Dip
This authentic Khmer prahok ktis recipe makes the deliciously rich Cambodian dip made from fermented fish, minced pork and coconut milk that is served with fresh crispy vegetables. It also makes a great introduction to the use of Cambodia’s beloved prahok and the herb and spice paste called kroeung in authentic Khmer cuisine. This recipe is as authentic as they come, but it is also a recipe where you can tone down the amount of prahok as a mild concession to Western palates. One of the things that restaurants owners in Siem Reap have told us is that when tourists to Cambodia first try prahok ktis, if it’s too ‘fishy’ smelling or it tastes a little like an old French cheese, they automatically think there is something wrong with it. That’s because you don’t normally associate pork mince with a fermented aroma. Once they are assured that it’s fine, many go on to enjoy the Cambodian dip, so much so that it often becomes food-loving travellers’ favourite Cambodian dish.
Singapore Laksa Recipe for Spicy Coconut Curry Noodle Soup
This Singapore laksa recipe is the rich coconut milk-laced version of this Southeast Asian classic noodle soup dish. A great laksa is not made starting from a jar of paste, a great laksa starts with curry paste made from scratch in a mortar and pestle. Terence has been making this Singapore laksa recipe since we first started slurping the spicy coconut curry noodle soup back home in Australia in Sydney’s Chinatown in the 1980s. It served as an early after-work dinner before our evening uni classes and slurping a Singapore laksa became a Saturday morning ritual before shopping Paddy’s markets. While you can use store-bought stock and tinned coconut milk, fresh is best for these ingredients. When it comes to store-bought curry laksa pastes, these are to be avoided unless you’re desperate and really don’t have the time.
Cambodian Soup with Pork, Pineapple and Coconut Milk Recipe
This Cambodian sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk recipe makes a versatile dish with a Khmer yellow kroeung base that you can serve as a soup by thinning it out with stock or water or dish it out as an almost curry-like stew by letting it simmer longer and reduce right down. Samlor – which you’ll see written as samlo, samlaw, samlar, samla, samlah etc as there’s no standardisation of romanised English for Khmer – can mean both a soup or a stew, which can be confusing to foreign travellers in Cambodia for the first time. A positive is that as a cook this gives you a certain degree of freedom, which is why you’ll see this sour soup with pork, pineapple and coconut milk served very much as a thin soup, especially in homes in the countryside where soups mean there’s more to go around. But you’ll also find this dish in restaurants presented as a heartier stew or curry. ‘Sour’ is a tad misleading, too, as this is a balanced soup with the sourness offset by sweetness. It should perhaps be called a ‘sweet and sour’ soup, although then the Chinese cuisines come to mind, which would create false expectations about the flavours. Served in bowls at home, for a special occasion or at a restaurant, it might be served in a pineapple cut in half as I’ve done or cut lengthwise.
Burmese Chicken Coconut Noodle Soup Recipe
This ohn no khao swe recipe for Myanmar’s beloved Burmese chicken coconut noodle soup, a distant relation to Chiang Mai’s khao soi, is one that Terence has been making since we first became enamoured with the dish in Yangon on our first trip to the country. Our ohn no khao swe recipe is perhaps the most popular dish alongside mohinga and our recipe combines the best of the many renditions Terence and I sampled on our Myanmar travels, starting with the first ohn no khao swe we savoured at Yangon’s grand old hotel, The Strand. Ohn no khao swe – more correctly, ohn no khao swè, but you’ll also see it written as ohn no khauk sway, on no khauk swe, ohn no khau sway, and ohn no khau swe – consists of egg noodles in an aromatic chicken curry soup with a coconut milk base, typically garnished with crunchy fried noodles, boiled eggs, shallots, fried garlic, dried chilli, lime, coriander (cilantro), and sometimes fried chickpea fritters. Ohn no khao swe is generally considered to be a street food dish, offered by roving vendors and available from markets and roadside stalls, although these days you’ll also see it on menus everywhere from simple family-ran eateries and cafés to hotel all-day-dining restaurants and shopping mall food courts.
Cambodian Creamy Coconut Pineapple Fish Curry Recipe
This Cambodian coconut pineapple fish curry recipe makes samlor ktis Koh Kong, a sweet gently spiced curry made with coconut cream, pineapple and baby eggplants from Koh Kong, an island and coastal province in Cambodia’s southwest. A samlor is a soup or stew, but with a base of herbaceous red kroeung – a Cambodian herb and spice paste pounded from fresh lemongrass stalks, galangal, kaffir lime zest, turmeric, garlic, shallots, and red chillies – this very much tastes like a curry. And thanks to the pineapple and coconut cream,it also tastes of a tropical island. It’s the kind of curry that you imagine tucking into on a beach holiday, sitting within splashing distance of the sea – with a bowl of fragrant jasmine rice, an icy cold beer to wash it down with, and your toes in squeaky white sand.
Vegan Curry Recipe With Coconut Cream and Baby Corn and Carrots
This vegan curry recipe makes a delicious Southeast Asian style vegan curry with baby corn, baby carrots and shallots that is so good that even non-vegans will love it too. It’s not only an easy vegan curry recipe to make – although it will give your arms a good work-out if you’re not used to using a mortar and pestle (we have paste-pounding tips here), it’s also a very versatile recipe. It can be made as a vegan Thai yellow curry or a vegan Cambodian curry depending on the paste you make – or buy. This is a rich and creamy curry, however, if you’re counting calories, you can lighten it by using coconut milk instead of coconut cream. You can bump up the heat by adding more chilli to the paste or curry – or leave the chillies out if you like spice but not heat. You could swap out the vegetables for whatever veggies are in season – or in your fridge. Vegetarians could even garnish the curry with a couple of halved soft-boiled eggs.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make any of our recipes with coconut cream and coconut milk as we’d love to know how they turn out for you.