My mother recently wrote an interesting article about the usefulness of coconuts and added a couple of recipes from Guam. Enjoy!
Guam is located in the Western Pacific and is a United States Territory. Although no pure native exist today, people with the native blood are called Chamorros.
Ask Joyce: The useful coconut tree
The Pacific Edge September 19, 2008 by Joyce Martratt
Chamorros in ancient times and the present share the belief in this tree of life. The ancients lived a simple and healthy lives prior to European intervention; diseases were introduced and the descendants of this people, the new world and modern Western mixture comprised of the present-day Chamorros. The dependence on this tree of life, though, is still a part of the Chamorro culture and I am glad. In earlier studies with different oils, the competition is fierce for what is the healthiest form of oils. According to medical studies, you have the short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and long-chain fatty acids (LCFA). Coconut oil contains MCFA. Why is this good? According to modern medicine, LCFA contains the vast majority of fats and oils, the saturated and unsaturated fats and oils from animals or plants. The fat molecules of MCFA are totally different from LFCA. MCFA do not have a negative effect on cholesterol. Studies are continuing on this subject, but the findings are becoming clearer that coconut oil and coconut meats are healthy. Coconut is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
So don’t be weary of Chamorro foods—eating in excess is, I believe, the root of most people’s problems … including myself. Be adventurous and try those made with coconut or coconut milk. Here is a couple of recipes:
Eggplant in Spicy Coconut Cream (Feeds 2 persons)
4 to 6 long green or purple eggplants
4 green onions (scallios)
1 or 2 small Guam peppers or similar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 to 1 1/4 cup coconut milk
salt to taste
Wash eggplants, poked with forks to allow heat to enter evenly through eggplant; grilled over a barbecue grill or on a flat griddle stovetop. When skin turns black and eggplant becomes soft, place in a bowl of cold water—about 5 minutes; once cool, peel skins carefully and place eggplants in another bowl. Take a fork and gently split eggplants lengthwise. Wash off green onions and chop finely; add to the eggplant. Repeat the same procedures with the peppers. Add lemon juice; the juice of fresh lemons is preferred. Add coconut milk—coconut milk from freshly grated coconuts is the best. Add salt to taste. Your taste buds will let you know if the lemon juice and coconut milk are not blended where you need to add a little of either to bring out that tangy and sweet delicacy of the coconut milk.
Beef in Coconut Milk (Tinactac)
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pounds flank, round or sirloin steak cut into 1/2 –inch strips
3 tbsp of soy sauce
? cup water
Juice of a lemon and a half
2 ? cups coconut milk
1 cup cherry tomatoes (red and green), cut in half
2 cups of string beans, cut in 2-inch lengths
1 cup fresh spinach, whole
salt and pepper to taste
Add the extra virgin olive oil to deep skillet and turn stove on high. As the skillet heats, add garlic (do not brown) and onions; stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add the steak and a generous sprinkling of black pepper, stirring and cooking for 2 minutes. Add and mix vegetables with meat ingredients. Add soy sauce and lemon juice, stirring, adding water. Lower to medium heat; simmer for 4 minutes or when string beans are done but not overdone. Add salt, stir and then coconut milk.
Turn on high and bring the liquid to boiling point—turn the heat down to low. Let it simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off heat.
Eat with rice — the richness and texture of the coconut milk truly make this dish very tasty — mangge (delicious).
si Joyce I. Martratt