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For most people, coconuts inspire images of swaying palm trees and blue water. But even if you can’t visit the tropics, you can still find coconuts in most local supermarkets.

When ripe, the inner coconut turns from a jelly-like consistency to hard, white flesh, which can then be grated or peeled. Coconut milk is created by grating the flesh, mixing it with water, heating it until foamy and then straining it through cheesecloth. (Using readily available canned coconut milk saves you the trouble, of course.)

I chose the following four recipes to show off the coconut’s versatility. For breakfast, you can whip up coconut pancakes and pair them with bananas and passion fruit for an eye-opener with a tropical punch. Then move onto lunch with a refreshing shaved coconut-and-crab salad with mint and lime. Coconut cream adds the richness to sweet soy pork over jasmine rice for dinner. And for dessert, try the refreshing and light coconut tart with crème fraiche. Finally, after eating all these coconut-infused dishes, you just might be able to fool yourself into believing that you’re on the Caribbean instead of on the Chesapeake. 

Crab, Mint, Chili, and Coconut Salad

Sweet Soy Pork over Jasmine Rice

Coconut Pancakes with Bananas & Passionfruit Syrup

Coconut Tart with Pineapple & Crème Fraiche

Andrew Evans is the owner/chef of Easton’s Thai Ki.

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