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Coconut Water Braised Pork

August 4, 2013

Coconut water, fresh from the coconut!

Coconut water, fresh from the coconut!

Coconut water is the buzzword at the moment. It has been touted as the next superfood to fix everything from boosting your metabolism and aiding weight loss, to clearing acne and curing hangovers! Pleeeeeeeze!

Sure, it is a fantastic source of natural electrolytes including sodium, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus. But then, so does your average bowl of fruit salad!

I can’t help but get disillusioned at the marketing hype of the latest food fashion. Last year it was raw cacao and the year before, chia. Not that I’m knocking the benefits of these healthy foods, but they are not “new” they are just over-marketed. Which brings me to the latest fad – coconut water.

Coconut water is the liquid naturally present in the centre of a young coconut and is clear and fat-free unlike the creamier milk made from older coconuts. It is packaged very cleverly inside a coconut! Now we can buy coconut water in cans, in tetrapaks and in bottles. I have always been an advocate of unprocessed food and quite frankly, coconut water from a tetrapak has been processed! The best way to buy it is in a young coconut which can be bought from a greengrocer. Not so convenient, but unprocessed.

On a recent holiday in Fiji, I learnt that each coconut palm has its own distinctive flavour of water, apart from the type of species of palm it is. Interesting… some are naturally sweeter than others, and that the flavour varies from season to season.
I was not very keen on it until I tried a few different nuts, then I realised that I had just not had a good one! A good nut has a very sweet and refreshing taste and is best served really cold. Inside a young coconut there is a thin gelatinous layer of meat inside the shell. This is the immature coconut flesh. The older the coconut, the less water it will have – and more gelatinous meat, which in turn, hardens into white meat.  This young meat is quite delicious to eat too, so don’t throw it out. Blend it up in a smoothie or add it to a fruit salad.

porkstewThis traditional Vietnamese braise uses coconut water instead of coconut milk (or water) and lends a subtle coconut flavour behind the other aromatics in the stock. If you are going to use packaged coconut water, make sure that you buy an unsweetened one as many of the cans & bottles sold are full of sugar.

500g mid loin pork or pork belly (not too fatty), cut into 5 cm cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 tabs fish sauce
2 tabs soy sauce or tamari
3 star anise, whole
½ teas cracked black pepper
1 teas palm sugar (optional)
2 spring onions, sliced
3 cups coconut water
4 boiled eggs, peeled

Combine pork, garlic, onion, fish sauce, soy sauce, pepper, star anise and sugar in a bowl and marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Put meat & marinade in a saucepan with the coconut water and bring to the boil. Turn down and simmer for 1 hour on low heat (skimming occasionally) and then add eggs. Simmer for a further 30 minutes. Serve with steamed rice and garnished with spring onions.

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