Thai-Style Creamy Coconut Sauce

This sauce is special. I always make at least a double batch because it actually freezes well (we tend to use it up faster than that, however) and it goes very well over rice or riced cauliflower, broccoli or as a base for a Thai-style soup if you add chicken, shrimp, lemongrass, red bell peppers, carrots or whatever you like in your coconut milk-based soup.

Most frequently I serve it over riced vegetables and shrimp with grilled tilapia or other flaky white fish. Fresh cilantro on top of anything you serve with this is also delightful.

If you have leftover cilantro, make cilantro oil to freeze while you make your sauce! So easy.


  • salt and pepper to taste (I like to use at the end of cooking a dash at a time, then taste, etc)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro, divided (some for the sauce, some for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional if you prefer vegetarian/vegan, but it does add a lot of dimension to the flavor)
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (light is fine)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced or ginger paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar


  1. Combine vinegar, sugar, and pepper flakes in a small saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about one minute.
  3. Off heat, stir in half of the cilantro, fish sauce, coconut milk, ginger, and garlic.
  4. Sprinkle whatever you serve with the remaining cilantro.

Used as a sauce this elevates rice with fish or chicken with such a small effort. Try layering rice with tilapia or shrimp and preferred veggies in foil packets and spoon the sauce over all of it. Seal the packets and bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees. Such a treat and the leftovers can be used on salads or in soup using the remaining sauce (see note below).

If you’re making this into a soup, add vegetable, fish or chicken stock to desired consistency. You may also wish to add whatever remaining coconut milk you have or even a second can, depending on desired flavors.

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