The best way to reheat coconut milk sauce?

For a meal for over 3 hours, people do not arrive at the same time. I will prepare a Thai shrimp dish cooked in curry coconut milk sauce beforehand. Is it possible to keep the milk sauce (without the shrimps) warm in a steam oven for 3 hours at 160ºF / 70ºC? Will the sauce curdle?

Or is it better to store the shrimp in milk sauce in the fridge, cooked beforehand, and reheat a portion when people want it?

I would think it would be safe to reheat. When I’ve made Tom Kha Gai, which is a coconut milk based, I can reheat without issue and no bad effects on the taste. With that being said, will it be too distracting for you to constantly have to run and reheat the sauce, rather than spending time with your guests?

Edit: I also use a curry coconut based sauce for my HK style curry fish balls with daikon. I reheat that too and it tastes fine. I sometimes have added this as a sauce for the thicker rice noodles and it’s delicious!

The ideal will be, of course, to keep the whole dish warm in the oven, and people serve when they feel like. Maybe shrimp is a bit too delicate, I think chicken, for example, will be easier.

How were you thinking of cooking the shrimp? Maybe if it’s grilled or some thing that would still hold up if it separate it and still be ok at room temperature. If you’re looking for that just cooked shrimp taste, that might be tough.

Yeah, grilled or wok cooked, with lemongrass, garlic, ginger, spice etc.

To have that extra shrimp taste, I’ve thought of adding some extra shrimps (and shells) to cook with the sauce. Those will be removed during the heating process.

My major concern is the curdle issue. I remember sometimes coconut milk curdled, sometimes not.

With few exceptions, I can’t imagine keeping anything that was previously “done” warm/hot for three hours. Those exceptions include things that have cooked for hours in the first place (BBQ/chili/stews/etc.). Shrimp (seafood in general)… never.

Same for real dairy sauces, but coconut milk can exist in curries and stews for a long time, but still… three hours after being done is a long time.

I would absolutely fridge it and heat portions in a small pan for the stragglers.

Yes, I agree with you, but I was asked repeatedly on this possibility.

It will dried up a lot and become very concentrated, even with a steam oven.

I do a number of shrimp dishes with a sauce. I’ll keep the cooked shrimp and sauce separately in the fridge, then heat the sauce med/hi, and then lower to med/low and add the shrimp. This provides a hot dish without overcooking the seafood.

Usually, the sauce is much more resilient than the seafood.

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Someone is forcing you to make shrimp curry? For a party that people will eat the shrimp at over 3 hours? Or is this for that cafe-type thing?

If for the latter, I think it’s fine if you hold everything separately in the fridge and reheat a portion at a time for service — curry separate, vegetables separate, shrimp separate. Heat the curry gently (don’t boil).

If it’s the party set up, I’d skip the shrimp for a different protein. Even fish would be better if you must have seafood (pan fry chunks or fillets of a sturdy fish at the start, which will keep them from falling apart later). But really chicken or beef would hold up a lot better than any seafood over 3h.

Shrimp stock and/or shrimp paste and/or fish sauce can get you there more effectively than shrimp itself.

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Finally, cooked chicken instead of shrimp and kept the whole dish with sauce warm in oven over 2 hours, took out occasionally to serve. It was okay, liquid dried up a bit, the meat remained moist.