Sunday, March 16, 2014

Adventures with Coconuts and Banana Leaves....

How Hard Could it Be to Cook with Fresh Coconut?

Naive words. I really don't recommend tackling a humble coconut after a long day of work unless you have....BACKUP! If my girlfriend hadn't been as equally intrigued as I was by this tough hairy fruit that sloshed with a mysterious interior liquid, hope would have been lost. Here's my checklist for surviving a coconut encounter. May the you conquer the nut.

  • Get the GEAR! Find a hammer and screw driver (don't ask, just fetch). 
  • Find a very hard surface (aka concrete) and some old rags you don't mind damaging.
  • Find the 3 "eye" on the end of the nut. These are the vicious coconut's achille's heel.
  • Ok, go slow so you don't hurt yourself here. In fact, go get a buddy to help you hold the nut wrapped in the rag.
  • With the "eyes" facing upwards, firmly and precisely tap the screwdriver through each of the eyes with the hammer. This takes multiple smacks on each eye to make it all the way through the fleshy goodness.
  • Let the liquid drain out of the coconut into a bowl. This is coconut water. Nasty smelling. Kind of oily and waxing...not sweet and delicious. Get back to work!
  • This part is awesome. I'm not a big cook by any means, but any time I get to use a HAMMER, things are bound to get interesting.;) Wrap the nut in the rag again. Thwack that baby around the equator. 
  • Examine your progress. See a crack? Smack the nut again near the crack so it splits in half. 
  • RAWR! You win. :) You are now holding two halves of a coconut. Make a coconut bra, take a pic, and send to Instagram. 

  • Now that you've cracked the coconut it's time to prep it for feasting. Use the hammer again to break the hemispheres into chunks.
  • This part suuuuuucks. Begin to pry the woody-outernut from the creamy white meat. When I GTS'ed it ("Googled that sh*t"), it recommended using a veggie peeler on the white pieces after the husk was removed, but it was evident that my backup my slice her finger so we abandoned that idea.
  • After you've removed as much shell as you can or can take, begin grating the white chunks into delectable shreds. Hopefully, you have large chunks so you don't remove a nail with the grater.
  • Fling the beautiful shreddings onto a cookie sheet and toast in an over at 400F for about 10-15min depending on how crispy you like your shreds. 
  • I threw some slivered almonds and crushed pecans onto the sheet to toast too because I am a badass.
  • Take your treats out of the oven and throw in a bowl and SMOTHER WITH HONEY! Yeah, baby!

Now put your feet up and eat your socks off. This stuff is delicious - rich, vitamin dense, gluten-free, versatile, and a-mazing. If you are a lazy soul like me, you'll agree that this process can be done much more conveniently with pre-vanquished coconuts....after you've taken the coconut challenge and proved your tougher than a tropical nut. Good luck. :)

Banana-rama: Cook Fish in a Leaf!

If you follow Gallery of Shea on YouTube, you've seen a cooking video where I discuss a off-beat recipe I tried that involved a trip to an Asian market (my first time!), these greens below, and a banana leaf. Check the video for details on the recipe and my mixed review on cooking fish wrapped in banana leaves like little tamales. Comment below if you like using leaves instead of foil. Stay happy and healthy!

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