I was ten years old when I tried a coconut for the first time in Hawaii. As the coconut was cracked open, I imagined a creamy, cold drink that would satisfy my thirst and sweet tooth at the same time. With the first salty, lukewarm gulp, I realized it was far from what I expected. After that first taste, I didn’t drink anymore.
It took me about eight years to try another one. This time I was in Costa Rica. It was a baby coconut, fresh and ice cold. It was the most thirst-quenching beverage I had ever tried. I instantly craved another one.
These days, you don’t have to go to a tropical country to get a coconut. In California, they are available in most super markets. I used to drive to downtown Los Angeles at the break of dawn to buy boxes of coconuts to stock my fridge and have a constant supply.
I initially bought coconuts for their water. But I never liked how I would end up feeling guilty when I threw away the rest of the coconut because I was wasting the meat. Finally a friend of mine told me how he made a ceviche out of coconut meat. This motivated me to dice up my own version and give it a try.
Breaking into the nut and spooning out the meat isn’t the easiest thing to do if you get a more mature coconut. Younger coconuts have moist, tender meat. As they age, their meat gets thicker and contains less water.
Either way this recipe is delicious. With younger coconuts, you won’t need to use as many limes or marinate the meat as long, and the texture will more resemble an actual ceviche. With more mature coconuts, expect a crunchy texture that is more comparable to a salsa.
1. Drain your coconut. One of the three eyes will be weaker than the other two. Puncture this hole and place it over a glass to drain out the water. I like to drink the water plain or you can save it for a Smoothie
2. Crack open the coconut. Find a corner of a hard surface that won’t break, like concrete. Hit the coconut on the point of the corner in the same place until the coconut cracks. Eventually the crack will get big enough that you can pry the coconut open.
3. Use a knife to make slices in the meat. Use a spoon to pry the meat out of the nut.
4. Some remains from the nut may be on the back side of the coconut pieces. Use a peeler or serrated knife to clean the coconut so you are left with pure white pieces.
5. Dice the coconut into pieces, the smaller the better. I did 1 cm cubes, but in hindsight, I would have liked them to be smaller. Place the coconut into a bowl.
6. Squeeze limes over the coconut. Cover with foil and let sit in the fridge for about 40 minutes.
7. Drain any excess lime juice. Add the rest of the ingredients, mix well. Add salt to taste.
Tastes great with fresh, hot, corn tortilla chips, saltine crackers or serve it on top of grilled fish!
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