Saturday, December 1, 2007

Big Ones, Small Ones, Some as Big as Your Head

As you know, Reader, I am not religiously inclined, but there are moments when I feel like breaking into a shehekhianu. While far from the first time I have eaten fresh coconut, we recently opened one for the first time.

Research indicated that the first thing to do was to hammer a Phillips screwdriver into at least two of the three soft germination pores found clustered together on one end of the coconut. That way, you can pour the coconut water out of the coconut before opening it. This prevents either losing the fragrant water or getting wet. You need two holes so the air can go in one while you're pouring out the other. There was a lot more liquid in there than you would have thought.

I had always thought this would be the coconut milk, but it turns out to be a completely clear, sweetly but mildly flavoured juice. Coconut milk has to be made by grating and expressing the moisture from the flesh. We did not attempt this.

Once you've got the liquid out, my source told me to gently tap on the seam that runs all the way around the coconut, using the back of a large knife. I tried tapping gently all the way around a few times, then tried tapping not so gently: I could not perceive any loosening or give in the husk.

I turned matters over to Winnifred, who gave the thing three good whacks.

There you have it. Mind you, she started prying it too soon, not realizing that it would open part of the way and then clamp shut on her finger.

I was absolutely amazed at how much flesh turned out to be in there. Each of those quarters looked like I thought a half would look.

This is about one quarter grated. Now I love coconut, but how exactly is one to use that amount of fresh coconut in a week, the amount of time it takes to go off? To the cookbooks! First, we used the coconut water in a fish stew. We used some of the flesh in a stuffed squash. Then Winnifred noticed that we had quite a few chum salmon steaks in the freezer. Chum is not tender or flavourful enough to use in any of our regular salmon recipes. Normally we don't even buy chum, which is primarily used for animal feed. But it has been a tough year for the salmon fishery and chum is about all that's coming in. Winnifred thought a Thai prawn recipe might work as chum fish fingers, both adding flavour and making use of its slight toughness.

You dip the salmon slices in egg, then in flour, then back in egg, then in grated coconut. Stick it in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Could this be easier? It was also pretty good. We ate them over salad.

We both came away with injuries. That's Winnifred's finger where she got a blood blister from the coconut slamming shut on her. My thumb was too gory to blog unbandaged. I was using a potato peeler to take the remains of the husk off the flesh, and managed to gouge a big piece out of my thumbnail. The coconut was unharmed.

This was a good learning experience, and I think next time SPUD sends us a coconut I will try making a stuffed coconut I read about. It's called porivilanga. In that recipe, you open one of the germination spores as wide as you can, and funnel in some nuts, raisins and sugar. You close up the hole with a piece of wood and then you put the whole thing in a fire (not on: in) for thirty minutes. Okay, there are some logistics to work out, but a girl can dream.


the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

Congratulations on your first coconut!
Fresh coconut is a wonderful thing to have around. I find it easier to crack them open if they have been in the oven for about twenty minutes at something like 350.
Don't forget coconut chips and chocolate coconut cake (both in the peysekh guide)

CresceNet said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the chocolate lady מרת שאקאלאד said...

You can also use the shells in your fireplace, if you got one.

FJ said...

If you're really good at cracking them, you can make a bikini top, but ours ended up with kinda sharp-looking edges.

Helene said...

fighting with a coconut is much much worse if you pick your own. They come off the tree in a thick fibrous green husk that has to be peeled off with a machete or with a sharp blade permanently fixed into the base of a coconut tree --- preferably wielded by someone who has much more experience at this than I ever will!

Carolyn said...

Now you're censoring your avid readers? Is that right? Of course one's greatest curiosityis about the censored comment.

Carolyn said...

Help! All my comments are coming out as though they were from Carolyn and one of them was even an attack on Carolyn. LEJ

FJ said...

I believe it was a sales pitch for something. People send out a computer program that looks for blogs that allow comments and stick a comment on the blog which is really an ad. I'm sorry it's not more exciting than that. Of course I don't know if that comment was posted by Carolyn or LEJ.

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