If you are from Europe, the chances are you've never seen a coconut before.
Oh, yes, those hairy brown things you can sometimes purchase at the supermarket, if you're lucky, they have coconut milk inside, right?
Wrong. The liquid inside is water, it is used by the coconut to produce the white flesh. The less water, the older the fruit.
The pictures on the right show coconuts at varying ages ...
... if you want to drink the water, which is very sweet, you have to find a young, green coconut — the shell inside is white, the flesh inside is just about two millimeters thick and is very soft and sweet. Fresh, young coconuts have a green outer shell which turns brown as they get older. To get at the coconut itself, you have to remove the outer 'skin'. So if the juice inside a coconut is water, where does the milk come from? The easy answer: buy it in a tin or a tetra-pack in the supermarket ... The traditional answer: make it! It is great for cooking traditional Asian meals. How? Ingredients: one machete, one brown coconut of medium age, one coconut rasp. One large sieve to strain the grated coconut. First – work out where the top of the coconut is!
Once you have found it, take the machete and de-husk it.
If you are careful in removing the husk, you can use it for growing orchids in or as protection around the foot of sensitive plants. Second – break the coconut in half by whacking it with the blunt side of the machete. To do so place the coconut with its two 'eyes' facing upward and the 'mouth' down (it looks rather like a seal). Hit the nut hard across the seam that is now facing upwards. The coconut will break in half easily and spill juice everywhere! Third – Take the coconut rasp. Don't slip, it hurts! Now carefully pare the flesh out of the coconut and let it drop into a suitable tray. Fourth – Soak the coconut parings in hot water and squeeze them to extract the milk. Repeat as often as necessary to extract all of the juice. To obtain coconut cream boil the milk until it becomes frothy, then let it stand. The mass that floats to the surface is the cream.
Once you have peeled the
husk off a younger coconut,
the shell is white ... ... young coconuts yield a refreshing sweet drink.
Let Netty teach you how to cook delicious northern or southern (spicy!) Thai meals ...