So since Ian is posting general stuff than just recipes, I will too. Way to expand my horizons, Ian :P.
So I've been playing a lot with coconut milk lately. It really is a nice pair to some of the world's stronger flavors (such as turmeric, as seen in the mediterrasian recipe).
I made a discovery recently, while trying to pick out which 79 cent can of coconut milk to buy at the chinese market by my house. Instead of picking the one with the prettiest colors, I started reading the ingredients. It turns out that most coconut milk you can buy out there contains coconut extract instead of being actual coconut milk! I'm sure that costs less and probably stays "fresh" longer, but I'd rather have the real stuff, thanks!
The only brand I found that contained actual coconut milk was one that was called SAVOY coconut cream.
The ingredients on this bugger read as follows: coconut milk 70%, water, potassium metabisulphate (E244) as a preservative. It has some allergy advice: contains sulphordioxide. Ok, so it's not ideal, but it's about the best I've seen out there.
Good thing I wasn't trying to buy coconut milk at Safeway, where they only have one brand. The point I'm trying to make here, is that if you are going to try to cook so-called "ethnic" food, where you need ingredients out of the "ordinary," see if you can find an "ethnic" market that has the good stuff. And do some research on what the good stuff is, if you can't figure out just by the ingredients. For instance, here's a link to a guide by San Jose chef Andrea Nguyen, on picking out Vietnamese fish sauce. Cool, huh?
If you live in the Bay, I have a list of local "ethnic" markets on my yelp profile. Check it out!. It's under the list called "Grocery for the Adventurous Cook."