For Vietnamese cooking, are coconut water and coconut milk interchangable?

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Senior Cook
May 15, 2020
Prior Lake
I'm trying to replicate a dish a friend had years ago (alas I've never tried it) and I'm fairly certain it's Ga Xao Sa Ot (spicy lemongrass chicken) and the one ingredient I can't find is coconut water. I can find tons of coconut milk though, but I'm worried I might ruin/hurt the recipe if I make this swap as they're fairly different products. Thoughts?!?

The recipe is very simple, including chicken, lemongrass, garlic, sambal, fish sauce, coconut water, shallots, and green onion.
They are very different. Where are you located? I find coconut waterr at the grocery store, in the beverage department. It comes in a pint carton. The coconut milk and cream come in a can in the international aisle. Your grocery may have a different layout, but they usually are not together.
Coconut water is the big fad beverage these days, at least in the big cities. It is supposed to make you healthier, smarter and better looking... and who knows what else. It is in every grocery and convenience store around me. And yes, it is different than coconut milk. But, you could probably water down some coconut milk, maybe 50/50, and make it work???

You can sub water for coconut water if you like or use chicken stock. Coconut water is what's drained out of the coconut, a little sweet and nutty and pretty much like water, but I suspect with those other ingredients it's not going to bring much to the recipe. Coconut milk is the grated flesh of the coconut mixed with water, then pressed or squeezed to remove the liquid that is generally fairly high in coconut oil and is what generally used in a lot of Asian cuisine, soups etc. I would be inclined to add some milk to any recipe like that, but that's just my opinion.
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