Coconut milk powder is an ingredient in most Southeast Asian cooking and is not the liquid inside a coconut. It is prepared by soaking the grated flesh of a coconut in hot water or scalded milk, then straining the combination. Coconut milk is classified as thick, thin, or coconut cream. Thick coconut milk is the result of the first soaking and squeezing. If this milk is refrigerated it separates, and the top layer is the cream. Thin coconut milk is what is produced when one steeps the coconut meat a second time and then strains. For an official world standard, see Codex Alimentarius, coconut milk, nr 240-2003
Canned coconut milk separates naturally. The top layer can be spooned off for recipes calling for cream, or the two layers can be mixed together to get the most commonly called-for thick coconut milk.
Powder-like, fine texture, and white, coconut milk powder is manufactured through the spray drying process of raw unsweetened coconut cream. Very different from the more widely available and coarser desiccated coconut made from the white coconut meat, coconut milk powder is a good substitute for fresh coconut milk and an alternative to animal milk for those who would like a completely vegan food. However, many commercially available coconut milk powders list milk or casein, a milk protein, on their ingredient lists. Vegans and those with milk allergy may need to prepare their own at home.