My weekends are always filled with cooking challenges that I set for myself. I have failures and triumphs as many of you would have read about it on my blog. And just last weekend, I decided to crack, grate and squeeze my very first fresh coconut milk. It was a very messy affair but I did receive a lot of help of twittverse. And I will like to thank @tomatom for lending me a coconut grater.
I have a recollection that Grandma used to buy grated coconut from the Indian/Pakistani stores in the wet market and she will take it home and squeeze the life out of them to make curries and other delicious desserts. I found a version of the coconut grater on youtube. It is pretty innovative and I wish I had one of these at home. I am not sure if they still exists in Singapore. Anyone?
I wanted to save the coconut water so my first struggle was to drain the juice. To do that I hammered a nail into 2 of 3 black spots that can be found on the coconut. These are the weakest spots and it breaks quite easily after a couple of tabs. I then placed the coconut with the holes facing downwards on top of a glass and allowed the juice to drain out. I wish I had a resident monkey but I didn’t. With the advice of many twitter friends, I used the back of a cleaver and knock around the coconut till the cracked open in two. What a mess! Ughhh….! I was knocking the coconut the wrong way and it went horribly wrong. It cracked in little bits and pieces. Mister laughed when he saw what I did. He said” You are not from a kampung (malay village) so you have no idea at all.” He took over the next coconut and cracked it in 3 knocks. I really had no idea.
This is a dangerous apparatus. Not much force is required to scrap the coconut meat but I guess I over zealous and managed to scrap my palm. Mister had to come to my rescue again and finished the job for me. YAY!
Use a muslin cloth, add a little of warm water to the grated coconut and squeeze the milk out. I missed my gym that evening. I did not need it after the hammering, whacking, grating and squeezing to make coconut milk. I was just not prepared and did not do my due diligence.
It can be quite difficult to wash off the coconut cream off my hands. It stayed on my fingers and hands like a thick coconut hand cream. I kept smelling my hands. So addictive. Nice lovely coconut smell. Anyway, I left the milk aside and carried on with the chicken. And you do not need to make your own coconut milk, just get it from any Asian grocer. If you are in Australia, I will recommend using Ayam brand.
- 1 whole chicken chopped into pieces (2kg)
- 4 medium potatoes
- 2 star anise
- 5 cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10-15 dried chillies
- 6 large shallots
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 20g of belachan (toasted)
- 2cm gresh tumeric
- 3 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1tsp fennel
- 500ml coconut milk
- 2tsp of sugar
- Vegetable cooking oil (you may use ghee if you like)
- Make the spice paste by pounding the shallots, garlic, dried chillies, toasted belachan, fennel, cumin, tumeric, coriander seeds and some rock salt
- Saute star anise, cinnamon and cloves in heated vegetable oil. Add the spice paste, add 3 tbsp of coconut water and 3 tbsp of coconut milk and stir fry over low heat until the aroma fills the house
- Add the chicken and coat it with all the spices. Throw in the cubed potatoes. Add about 350ml of the coconut milk, the sugar and a little bit of water and allow it to simmer till the chicken is cooked and the potatoes are tender.
- Add the remaining coconut milk and mix it through. I used some of the grated toasted coconut to thicken the sauce. Season accordingly. If you are not using fresh coconut milk and like it to be thicker, add thick coconut milk/cream instead.
- Serve with yellow rice (tumeric) or plain white rice
To make the yellow rice, just grate some leftover tumeric into a bowl of water and wait for it to turn to a nice yellow colour. Drain and bowl the water into the rice and cook it. The colour of the rice reminds of sunshine! I love the subtle tumeric aroma and I always love the smell of freshly cooked rice.
Do not throw the grated coconut after squeezing it. I laid it out on a tray and chucked it in the oven on a very low heat of 100° and toasted it till it dried out and had very light colour. It can be used for thickening curries and making desserts. Using fresh coconut milk did make a difference. Curries are known to be quite heavy and this turned out quite light and had a natural sweetness to it. Will I be grating and making more coconut? I will but not for awhile. I need to heal my palm first and also our tiny kitchen is finally getting a revamp!
Have you grated and made fresh coconut milk before? I will like to hear your stories!