There are things you do in the kitchen because you think you HAVE to do it. You think to yourself, “Man, this is hard, but I know the outcome will be well worth it!” This is never more the case for me than making anything related to fresh coconuts. I use coconuts and coconut milk in practically everything I make– both savory and sweet. It is simply too luxurious a mouth-feel and flavor not to find a way to incorporate it.
One of my most favorite, recent, food memories was making coconut milk with my Sister-In-Law Wendy in my kitchen with dried coconuts from my mom’s tree. We scraped and wielded our knives against the unyielding coconut flesh in the hopes of gathering enough of it to make some fresh coconut milk.
Our hands and fingers threatened to boycott the difficulty of separating the meat from the stubborn husk. We both thought to ourselves, “Man, there has to be a better way to do this. An easier way.”
Enter the Domestic Goddess herself, that bastion of culinary wisdom, and knowledge bearer of all things “Kitchen”– Mrs. Martha Stewart! No, Martha did not physically appear in my kitchen. But a few months after Wendy and my coconut milk extravaganza, I opened one of her cookbooks to make one of my favorite Martha desserts. It was there that I stumbled upon this recipe for “Coconut Curls.”
I had made coconut curls in the past, but this recipe made it SO completely easy! I KNEW I had to share it with the host of fellow Coconut Lovers out there! From now on, there is no other way I will make anything that requires fresh coconut.
These make the best garnishes for anything coconut related. And all it requires is time, a hot oven, more time, and a solid vegetable peeler! Gotta Love Martha!
Dried Coconut in the husk
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Select a good dried coconut. Not a fresh green coconut. The coconut should be heavy for its size and full of water when it is shaken.
Identify the softest of the three eyes on the dried coconut and puncture it with an ice pick. Drain the liquid.
Place the coconut in the oven for 30 minutes on a baking sheet.
You will know that it is ready to come out because you will see and hear cracks along the outer shell.
Take a hammer and gently break the shell. Try to keep as much of the meat intact as possible. Then separate the inside of the coconut from the outer husk.
You can peel off the outer brown crust. However, I appreciate contrast in my life and on my plate. So, I always keep the dark outer rind.
With a vegetable peeler, simply run it across the rim of the chunks of coconut and voila!! Coconut Curls!!
Use as a garnish, or savor as a snack, there are too many ways you can find to use these beautiful, gossamer-thin, strips of coconut-heaven!