Tuesday, June 28, 2011

In case you're wondering what I did with those coconuts...

First of all, I was extremely tempted by all the decadent-looking desserts made with coconut that I knew I would surely love…but I decided to also try to find a healthful use for my co-op coconuts.  So I declared last Friday island night!  Our menu consisted of: pan-seared coconut shrimp with lightly stir fried veggies and brown rice.  I was also due to celebrate a co-workers birthday this week, so I had a good excuse to make a coconut dessert after all: a coconut frosted, vanilla-almond cake (I was a little indulgent, but I shared). 

I have never cooked with fresh coconut.  Even though I pride myself on trying new things in the world of food, I have to admit that it would be highly unlikely that I would purchase a fresh coconut on my own… Again, thank you co-op for pushing me to greet this challenge.  Also, thank you Internet for a wealth of information at my fingertips!  I found this helpful advice on how to crack that sucker; and it worked like a charm:

1.      With a screwdriver and a hammer, poke out two of the coconuts eyes.  (A coconut looks kind of like a bowling ball; you'll see the eyes easily).  Drain the coconut water and reserve.  There was an entire cup of “coconut water” in each fruit!  I used some in the stir fry and took a taste just for fun—it will not be my beverage of choice.

2.      Place the entire fruit in the oven for 25 minutes to loosen the meat.  Cool.

3.      With a hammer (and a strong arm) hit along the center of the coconut, rotating until it cracks.

4.      Use a knife to pry the white meat gently from the shell.

5.      Use a peeler to peel the brown skin from the meat.

6.    Grate the meat using the smallest holes on your grater.

7.    Get creative!

I'm grateful to the co-op for pushing my boundaries a little.  Imaging what it could do for you!  It's easy these days to find ways to use foods that you're not familiar with.  You might end up with something new that you love!  As for coconuts, I must admit that this was not exactly an easy feat.  I bet it would get easier with practice, but next time, even though I really do prefer fresh foods, I will probably go with the convenience of pre-shredded coconut.  It doesn't hurt to try, but we have to pick our battles :)