Scorching summer days draw us all away from our kitchens a bit. The heat, long days, and our hectic summer schedules make extensive kitchen time either unbearable or impossible. However, as our light Joy of Cooking coconut slaw proves, cooking need not fall by the wayside entirely.
Much of our summer cooking takes us to the backyard, keeping the heat involved in cooking out of the kitchen. As we want side dishes to play second fiddle to the rich flavors of grilled fare, what comes from the kitchen is usually very simple and chilled to perfection. Our favorite accompaniment to grilled fish, meat, or even tofu or tempeh, is a simple coconut slaw that packs a tart punch. Lime juice gives the slaw character, and the combination of coconut and cilantro creates the perfect foil for smoky foods.
Cracking a coconut is not as difficult a task as it may seem. We have found that the easiest way to open a coconut is to hold the coconut in one hand, and, using the blunt side of a cleaver or heavy knife (be sure to use the blunt side), whack the coconut at its equator, rotating it after each blow. In about two revolutions, the coconut should split in half. Be sure to crack the coconut over a bowl to catch the juice, which is delicious in its own right. At this point it will be much easier to break the coconut into smaller pieces for grating. You may also find already-hulled coconuts at your supermarket or at an Asian grocer. We do not recommend substituting dried coconut for this recipe.
Coconut Lime Slaw
Combine in a large bowl:
1 small coconut, hulled and grated
1 cucumber, seeded and grated
1⁄2 cup chopped cilantro
Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
Let stand, refrigerated, at least 30 minutes before serving. For a perfectly chilled slaw, however, prepare and refrigerate up to one day ahead.
Photo by John Becker
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Recipe excerpted from JOY OF COOKING by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker. Copyright © 2006 by Simon & Schuster, Inc. Excerpted with permission by Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.