oh, my husky friend, you have every reason to be afraid....
i needed coconut for my IMBB entry; last weekend i tried doing it myself by scrounging around the yard for one (i guess storm/pink party wiped us out), then grating it without the benefit of a coconut grater--something i wouldn't recommend. all i got was a measly cup and a nasty scar. i usually get mine by begging an uncle to do it for me, eh, there's a bunch of roadside vegetable stands that are nearby, one of them's bound to have a coconut for me.
most of the vegetable stands on island are run by vietnamese; many of them arrived on island in 1975, when guam became a refugee camp for the many airlifted out during the war.
i went to mai's, across the street from seaside mart. i don't normally go here, but it was the first one i came across.
almost all her produce is local; because of the recent tropical storm, the stand was relatively understocked. i was looking for an older coconut--niug in tagalog, niyyok in chamorro, niu in hawaiian (and nazi in swahili!). the coconut we used for the coconut sorbete is known as buko and too young for what i need.
she did have a few coconuts, but they were all just a little old. still, they were passable, so i bought one. the nice thing about the stands is that almost all of them have electric coconut graters (just a small motor with a giant burr attached, really) so you can spare yourself the grief. mai took her machete and cut the coconut cleanly in half (holding it in one hand, i might add. i'm surprised she still has two). when she cracked it open, this is what we found:
i think it's called a coconut flower. in our particular dialect in the philippines (pampangan, if anyone's interested), it's known as a tumbong--a spongey, cellulose mass saturated in coconut milk. you know your coconut's a little old if you come across one of these (it's the beginning stage of sprouting to become a tree). it is completely edible, and quite delicious (i don't think you can cook with it--does anyone know?).
mai gets to work, gratin' that coconut.
the final product!