When To Use Gata And Kakang Gata

Coconut milk is not always a good substitute for coconut cream.

IMAGE Shutterstock

Gata or coconut milk is one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. It's the non-dairy ingredient that gives a dish its super creamy texture. You probably use it frequently in many dishes. From the spicy hot Bicol express to the ginataan dishes that can be either savory or sweet, coconut milk is a kitchen staple for the Pinoy kitchen. 

Did you know that coconut milk (gata) and coconut cream (kakang gata) have different uses

They do! That's because the two kinds of gata have different consistencies. This makes a difference in the kind of dish it will produce. If you're unsure how to use these two kinds of gata, here is how to tell when to use gata and when to use kakang gata:  

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1 Use kakang gata or coconut cream for stews. 

Coconut cream is a thick mixture. It's the perfect consistency when added to and simmered in stews such as curries which will be braised. This is also the best gata to use when you need to simmer dishes since it has less water content and will make reducing the liquid in your dish easier and faster. 

Are you making latik? Use coconut cream since this contains more coconut solids that will turn into the crunchy bits you want to top your biko with.  

2 Use gata or coconut milk for soups and dishes that are more liquid.  

If you ever need coconut milk and all you can find in the supermarket is coconut cream, grab the cream. The good news is that you can dilute coconut cream to become coconut milk since coconut milk is basically the diluted or watered-down version of the coconut cream. 

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To make coconut milk from coconut cream, simply add 1/4 cup water to every 1 cup coconut cream. You can dilute it even further by using 1/2 cup water for every 1 cup coconut cream.  

This is a great hack for recipes that contain a liquid where the coconut cream will naturally become diluted when added to the dish. 

3 Use what is listed in the recipe. 

What you use can matter for some recipes. One of the main reasons why you cannot use coconut milk when a recipe calls for coconut cream is when you're using it in a baking recipe. The amount of water matters in baking recipes. It can mean the difference between a dry cake and a moist one. 

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Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!

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