On Monday afternoon, I developed a serious craving for coconut. Not shredded coconut, mind you, but big hunks of fresh coconut meat. There’s a juice bar around the corner from my office that normally sells it just like this:
With this image of coconuts past burning in my memory, I headed out on a mission. I arrived at the juice bar … and did not see any coconut. I looked up at the lady in the takeout window pleadingly. Hay coco hoy?? No, no hay. Now, it is quite rare that I have a craving and actually set out on a mission to honor it with a purchase. I’m just not into spending money. This was obviously a serious need. I combed the blocks of East Harlem searching for fresh coconut meat with no luck. Finally, in a moment of pure desperation, I caved and bought a whole coconut from the grocery store next door to work:
Clearly, there was nothing I could do with this thing while at work, so I decided to wait out the craving until I got home and could smash the coconut against a cinderblock in the privacy of my home instead of in front of my coworkers, many of whom grew up with coconut trees in their backyards.
Before I left work, Nydia tipped me off that step one would be to use a knife to gouge holes in the “eyes” so that I could drain the coconut water:
So far, so good:
Nature’s best hydrator:
Once the water was drained, I pulled out the biggest knife I could find and went to town:
Things got pretty loud as bits of shells were flying around my kitchen … and the coconut seemed no closer to allowing me entry. My roommate Brigitte came out to inspect. Is everything ok here? I explained to her that I needed coconut and that I was trying, very unsuccessfully, to access the meat inside the shell. Brig suggested that I look up proper coconut cracking procedure. That didn’t seem as fun as my if-i-just-hack-at-it-enough-times-it-will-open approach, but I was desperate and gave in to google.
Apparently, the trick is to hold the coconut in the palm of your hand like so and simply use the back of a knife to tap it all the way around its middle until it just magically splits in two. Suuuuuuuuuuure, this will work.
(As you can see, I had already removed my top layer of clothing as a defensive maneuver in case of accidental explosion.)
Lo and behold, those little taps made the darn thing split in half like it was born to do it!
The next order of business was to remove the shell. I had a vision for this coconut half, so there was going to be no cheating like shredding the coconut directly out of the shell. I found directions that told me to heat the whole, drained coconut for 15 minutes in a 450 degree oven to loosen the shell, so I put the halves back together and did what I was told. It was still pretty snug after the heating, but I decided to proceed with a screwdriver and a hammer:
Things were rough in the beginning and fingers were harmed:
But it was all smooth sailing once I got the first big chunk off:
Throughout this loooong torturous process, a vision of something earth-shattering had been taking shape in my mind.
I pulled a frozen banana out of the freezer — can you see where this is going?? — and blended up some green tea cinnamon banana soft-serve. I served the ice cream in the coconut shell topped with a bit of peanut butter and a hazelnut dark chocolate from Gina:
Earth-shattering indeed!! I would drain, crack, and shell coconuts all day long just for the chance to eat this every night. In fact, maybe that is what I should do. Career change alert!
Eating that ice-cream coated coconut bowl at the end made me sooooooo happy. And that best part is that I still have half the coconut left so that I can repeat 😀
Have you earned any meals recently?