Nuts about coconuts

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If you adore the taste and flavour of coconuts then there are no boundaries as to the uses of this delicious nut. Versatility is its strongest trait, in its young stage we get nutritious and delicious coconut water, a little later on we get both water and coconut jelly and in the final stage we get the dried jelly of the coconut which we use to create delicious sweets, desserts and savoury dishes, not forgetting the sublime coconut milk.

We can find processed coconut in many forms in the supermarket, there is tinned coconut milk, frozen coconut cream and there is coconut milk powder (which needs to be reconstituted before use), but nothing can replace freshly made.

Grated fresh coconut is used in candies, in baking breads and cakes, and in savoury batters. It is also cooked with sugar and used in fillings for tarts.

Coconut milk, or cream is used as an essential ingredient in ice creams, creamy desserts, soups, rice dishes, vegetable dishes, stewed peas, and in curries bringing both silken texture and distinct flavour.

TIP: to make coconut milk, crack your dried coconut, drain out any water then open the nut; remove the flesh with a knife, (definite skill is required here). Place in a blender with one cup of hot water, blend until finely grated or pureed. Line a strainer or sieve with a thin tea towel, pour the coconut mixture into this. Now squeeze the milk out of the towel. You should get one cup of milk from one coconut. The coconut husk that remains in the towel should be very dry, if not, squeeze some more.

Coconut fried shrimp with fire and spice orange dip

2 lbs large shrimp, cleaned with tails intact

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1½ tsp baking powder

1 tbs coconut milk powder

1 tsp salt

1 tsp curry powder

1½ cup milk

2 cups finely shredded fresh coconut

Vegetable oil.

Marinate shrimp in garlic and salt.

Make a smooth thick batter by combining 1½ cups flour, baking powder, coconut milk powder, salt, curry with milk.

In 2 separate plates put the remaining ½-cup flour and the shredded coconut.

Dredge shrimp in remaining flour, then dip into the batter and then roll in shredded coconut. Repeat to use up all the shrimp.

Fry the shrimp in hot oil until golden, drain and serve with orange dip.

Makes about 16 pieces

Fire and spice orange dip

1 cup orange marmalade

¼ tsp all spice

¼ tsp grated nutmeg

Juice of one orange

½ hot pepper, seeded and minced (optional)

1 tsp Chinese chili sauce

1 tbs shredded ginger

Combine all the ingredients. Serve with coconut fried shrimp

Makes about 16 pieces

Fish with coconut lemongrass and hot peppers

2 lb fresh fish fillets, cut into 4 portions

2 tbs minced chives

salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

2 tbs vegetable oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large onion, chopped

4 tbs fresh chive, white and green portions, finely chopped

1 red hot pepper, seeded and cut into strips

4 stalks fresh lemon grass (fever grass), smashed and thinly sliced

4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1½ cups coconut milk

1 tsp fresh lime juice

Clean and wash fish fillets season lightly with minced chives, salt and black pepper.

In a medium sauté pan heat oil and add garlic, onions, chives, hot pepper and lemongrass, sauté until fragrant about one minute, add tomatoes.

Add coconut milk to pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Adjust salt to taste. Puree sauce in blender and strain.

Return sauce to pot.

Add fish fillets and cook for about 4 minutes on each side basting frequently with sauce.

Remove from heat, adjust seasonings, sprinkle on lime juice and serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6

The post Nuts about coconuts appeared first on Trinidad and Tobago Newsday.

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