Cooking With Coconut

Cooking With Coconut

When you think about tropics the first thing that comes into your head are blue skies, sandy beaches, and of course, swaying Coconut palms, right? 

Coconuts are abundant in Panama, so of course they are used in local cooking.Besides the health benefits of Pipa Water and Coconut Oil, the rich flavor Coconut contributes to foods can create indescribable taste sensations.   But how to get that Coconut flavor fresh, and not out of a can. 

It is a bit of work, but the results are so spectacular.With a machete or cleaver, crack open and peel the thick husk surrounding the coconut, then carefully remove the hard shell surrounding the precious coconut meat.  Heating the Coconut in the oven for 10-15 minutes can help separate the meat from the shell.  Grate or cut into smaller pieces and blend in a blender. Put the fine grated coconut in preferably a glass or ceramic bowl. Add water to cover the coconut (usually 1:1 ratio) and soak for up to an hour. Squeeze the excess water and strain well through a cheese cloth or sieve. And there you have Coconut Milk. Add to soups, stews, curries, rice and sweet baked goods. Set aside in the refrigerator allowing the “cream” to rise to the top. This can be whipped into a coconut butter or reduced with sugar, creating a sweet Coconut Cream for your Pina Coladas. 

Ron Don is a traditional Fish soup throughout the Caribbean and Latin America with coconut milk being an essential common ingredient. Here in Panama it is made with a variety of root vegetables, plantains, fish, and of course coconut milk.  

The Cosmic Crab in Bocas Del Toro, surrounded by tropical gardens and home to hundreds of coconut trees, uses fresh coconut in many of their recipes.  Standouts among their many delicious soups and a favorite on the menu, is the Caribbean Coconut Curry Chicken Soup, with 16 different ingredients, including Coconut milk. The extraordinary blend of flavors is a delightful taste experience. Chicken, fish or shrimp dipped in a tempura batter, then rolled in fresh grated Coconut and fried is a Cosmic Crab specialty. Their most flavorful rice is made daily with fresh Coconut milk, a splash of Coconut oil and a dash of salt then topped with fresh grated then roasted Coconut. Cooking with Coconut… Simple, easy and tropically, exotically delicious!!!