12 February 2009

But one thing is not clear to me: the coconut dressing.
You process dried coconut flakes? And then mix it with curry leaves and other spices. I tried it and it gives me more like a chunky paste. I must of done something wrong there...
Could you explain it to me again?
Oh no! This email came from one of my dear listeners, Marie, who had asked me the questions about sandwiches (which, although I felt like I was out of my depth, I did my best to answer in this podcast episode). I think I might have mentioned a coconut dressing for some salad or another. It's one of my father's favourite ways to have any dense salad (like the ones with cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, onions, peppers, cucumbers, cilantro, and lots and lots of shredded coconut). I suggested a South Indian Coconut Chatni (not to be confused with North Indian fruit chutney, which in my mind is a disgusting way to ruin a perfectly good meal—who wants sweet with savoury?) which is a common accompaniment to all sorts of dishes, and completely forgot to specify that I meant to say fresh coconut.

As I mentioned in an old blog entry, my family always had fresh coconut, that my father would break open, and ferret out of the shell. The thought of having dried coconut never even entered my mind! I guess it's like those people who are fortunate enough to have herb gardens outside their houses: the thought of buying dried herbs seems ridiculous, when the fresh is sitting there in all its glory, right outside the door.

For the record, whenever I say "coconut" in any way, shape or form, assume that I mean fresh. The one concession I'll make is for tinned coconut milk, but that's mainly a convenience thing, rather than an ability thing. If I had the energy to break open a coconut, then grind it in the blender, then squeeze out the milk, then figure out what to do with the left over coconut grounds, I'd be doing it all the time. But quite frankly, coconut is expensive, and I'm not about to spring $1.25 on all that effort when a tin of coconut milk is about $0.89 for me. Thanks, but no thanks.

You can also find fresh grated coconut in frozen form at most Spanish supermarkets, or at Asian supermarkets. The best part about these is that the black, tough skin has already been removed, thus saving you a step in deliciousness. Just separate out the frozen block of coconut into 2 inch squares (be it with a hammer and chisel, or a mallet, or whatever it takes), and freeze them separately. Then, when you want coconut, just thaw out exactly what you need, because thawed coconut goes bad quickly.

I apologised profusely to Marie, and I hope she'll forgive me, and try again with fresh grated coconut that's been frozen. I also apologise to anyone else who tried the recipe and ended up with a mass of WTF.