For certain applications, like Thai chicken soup, homemade coconut milk is worth the extra effort.
Homemade is almost always better than store-bought, and we wondered if that’s the case with coconut milk made from scratch. We compared a homemade batch with one of our recommended brands of canned coconut milk, tasting it plain, as well as in our Thai Chicken Soup and a Thai curry.
The homemade coconut milk wasn’t worth the effort in the curry, where there were competing flavors and textures, but tasters unanimously preferred the from-scratch milk when tasted both plain and in the soup. The homemade milk was thinner than the store-bought, though no one minded.
Without any stabilizers, our homemade version did tend to curdle if heated to a simmer, but we found a quick fix: Add a little baking soda, which makes the milk more alkaline and discourages milk proteins from clumping.