Chef School: Lesson 8

I just realized I haven’t done one of these in months! My apologies. I like sharing the tips and tricks I’ve picked up along my cooking journey. We’ve covered how to pick and prep tubers like yuca and otoe, we’ve made plantains less daunting, Latin cooking basics, even some of the fancy sounding cooking methods such as coulis. This time will be all about the mighty coconut.

Earlier this week, one of my friends commented, or lamented, on Facebook about how difficult it was to find fellow coconut lovers. Her status generated a great deal of comments listing the pros and cons of this fruit. Here’s what I had to say on the subject.

As foods seem to break across more and more borders, ‘exotic items’ become more readily available. That’s wonderful, but it also means we may not utilize them simply because we don’t understand them. So let me introduce you to Mr. Coconut or Señor Coco as it is known in my world.

This fruit goes through a few different stages and is edible throughout most of them. Once it grows to a decent size, the young/green coconut can be harvested, cracked open and the water in it can be consumed. The water is slightly sweet and incredibly refreshing. In Panama and many other Central American countries, you’ll find them chilled and sold at corner stores.

As the fruit matures, the meat will become more and more dense. First you will find a gelatinous meat that has to be eaten with a spoon. At this stage, the meat tastes much like the coconut water, only sweeter.

The more mature the coconut, the more dense the meat, until you arrive at the very thick and milky meat that is usually shredded into foods.

So how do you crack it? Let’s get to that.

I like using a hammer to crack the outer shell enough to drain the water out.

Once drained and the water has been reserved, I continue hitting it with the hammer to break into manageable pieces.

Then begins the ‘peeling’. Use the tip of a knife to separate the meat from the hard shell. Gently push the knife through, and the meat will pop right out of the shell.

That really is all there is to it. Discard the shell, rinse the coconut pieces and use them at will! Check out the step-by-step shots here.

Cookingly yours,

3 thoughts on “Chef School: Lesson 8

  1. The first thing I do when I arrive in a Tropical country…I buy a coconut drink my agua de coco and then la tela. I am a coco loca person.

    When vsitinf my mom years ago, she used to send my step-dad to bring down some cocos from the back yard and she would have it all ready for me…great memories. Also, coconut water is very good for you.

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