Married as I am to a woman who spent two years of her life in the Dominican Republic, I wouldn’t be able to hold my head up in my own house if I came home with pre-packaged coconut milk. It just wouldn’t be manly of me. So I make my own. It tastes great, makes the kitchen smell amazing, and puts me in touch with my inner Gilligan.
These days you can find good coconuts in most grocery stores. They should slosh when you shake them, indicating that there’s water inside, a sign of freshness. Just about every one you find in a store will come pre-scored, making it a lot easier to open. That’s a disappointment to Mrs. Pastry, who’s always looking for an opportunity to get her machete out and have a go at a chunky object. Me, I prefer to keep all my digits, so I go the safer route.
Now then, most instructions you find online call for striking the score of the nut with the back of a chef’s knife. That’s not for me either, since I keep my knives sharp, and prefer not to swing them with great force, even if I am trying to kill a monster nut.
I prefer this object: a heavy knife sharpener. This bad boy is made by F. Dick. It weighs probably 20 ounces and is solid as a rock — proving once again that when the Germans set out to make something, they make it. Enough said.
Pow. One good whack — with my other hand nowhere nearby — and the thing pops open. Actually I did the actually whacking out on the concrete patio, which is why the cutting board here is so clean. I lost all the coconut water, but then I don’t drink the stuff. If you’re into that, you can drill the coconut with an electric drill and drain the water out. Seems like a lot of bother to me for very little, but to each their own.
Once the nut has been cracked, a couple more good hits will shatter the halves. The meat easily pries off the interior shell with a butter knife. See that inner skin sticking to the meat? You can peel that off if you like. I don’t bother when I’m using the milk for baking or cooking, since color isn’t very important in those instances. If I were making mixed drinks with the milk, I’d apply the vegetable peeler, as the skin gives the milk a faint grey cast.
To make your milk place the pieces of coconut meat in a blender, and pour over it about 4 cups of hot water. You want it hot in order to melt the coconut oil, which goes liquid at about 76 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, it doesn’t have to be boiling. Good hot water from the tap is enough. Immediately blend the mixture until the coconut is in tiny bits.
Next, place a sieve or colander over a medium bowl.
Lay over it a couple layers of cheese cloth.
Pour in the blended coconut…
Then squeeze until every liquid drop you can manage is out of it.
And there, my friends, is homemade coconut milk. Is that not a beautiful thing?