Monday, December 22, 2014

Coconut Class

Judy has a grandson who works at the Pacific Island Resort and he brought a bunch of friends down to the Flores beach for a campout. PIC has a Kid's Club and they have a bunch of different activities and stuff they do with the kids. 

Judy somehow got into a conversation with one of the club mates about a coconut demonstration they do. So, she convinced said club mate to walk on over to the house with us and do a little demo-ing. 

Meet Takeo. He's from...California...was it San Francisco? San Diego? Never mind! Not important! 
So, hopefully you all know the basics. A coconut has an outer husk. An old coconut has a brown husk. A young coconut has a green husk. Buy a young one in the Afton grocery store and it's actually white. The cashier will not know what it is. He will ask you, and you will respond with "Green coconut", he will look at you like you're an idiot who doesn't know colors. You all are smart enough to know why the grocery store green coconut is white, right?

Here is Takeo using a pick stuck into the ground to husk a brown coconut. Traditionally, you would have an actual stake in the ground in your designated coconut husking area. This was so awesome. It was the first time my kids have seen this, or even seen coconuts pre-grocery store.

Take the husk off and it looks like this. There's the coconut we all know and love!

Use the back of your machete (or strongest kitchen knife) to knock on the equator of the coconut, going all the way around. It will eventually crack and hopefully you won't spill ALL of the water all over the ground. (Or your kitchen counter.)

Here, you can see Uncle Johnny just bringing us more and more coconuts. He kept saying, "We have plenty coconut."

Now comes the really fun part. You sit on a kumyu and grate the coconut. 

No! Not like that. Like this one below. You can read this person's blog post if you want. She reminisces about helping with the coconuts when she was a kid. 

This was actually Takeo's first time to grate one. It takes some thinking to get a nice texture and to avoid the blade from flipping up like a diving board and splattering your face with coconut.

I had to really cajole my kids to give this a try. 

Here's a grated shell I used as a bowl for big pieces. Morgan and Harris REALLY like brown coconut and Afton stopped selling them years ago, so they will just munch and munch. 

Here is a green coconut. You do not husk it. You use your machete to cut a hole in the end for your straw. Then, you cut it in half and fight with your kids to eat it. Oh, don't forget to cut off a scooper. I learned that from my stepmom, Angie, in Saipan when I was sixteen.  The water is usually sweeter and the younger it is, the softer the meat. It's so yummy. Grocery store never had any this young so this jello-like consistency was even new to my kids. Yum yum! I encountered something new, as well! If the green coconut is kind of old, the water actually develops a fizz. It's like coconut soda. I absolutely love it. 

This fresh grated coconut brought back lots of memories of my mom. She pulled out her kumyu every place we lived: North Dakota, England, California. This is nothing like store bought because this still has the milk in it. Milk, not the water. So, it's moist and juicy. To get the milk, you have to squeeze the flakes. I will have fun playing around with this new ingredient. 

Judy used part of this for chicken kelaguin which she took down to the campers to thank Takeo for the demo. 
The rest she used to show Kiki how to make coconut candy. It involves a lot of sugar and I could have fun experimenting with other sweeteners. 

I love coconut and Chamorro people do a lot with it! 

Here's a bizarre fact. People who are surrounded by millions of coconuts buy the water in the grocery stores. I can understand buying the milk and especially the oil, but the water??? Wow. Get a machete and get permission and get it FRESH.

Barely known fact: there is one more stage of a coconut. In Chamorro it's called faha. We found one and ate it, but I didn't have a camera. I know! You're disappointed! Another time, I promise!


  1. Very educational and yet fun to read, thanks, Tiana!

  2. When they named the streets in Saipan, your father's street was named Kumyu Street. He didn't like it because kumyu is Chamorro slang for a dullard.