The high point of my Forth of July celebration was having my friend and her family over for Thai Grilling. Our last Fourth of July celebration together was in 2008 on Phuket Island during the monsoon season.
Before noon, I marinated some Cinnamon Pork Tenderloin and Lemon-Lemongrass Chicken. Then I prepped for Cucumber-Pineapple-Tomato Salad. I made some “Coconut Water Vinegar Dressing” ahead of time and kept it pickled in the fridge. Everything was done in about an hour.
For lunch before the party, my family and I went to Sunfish on Alki Avenue in Seattle and got Fish and Chips. I had my seafood combo as usual and enjoyed it with some chili flavored vinegar. I complimented their homemade vinegar and they shared a secret with me: they make the chili-infused vinegar with 6% Malt Vinegar.
I enjoyed organizing the house before the party but had to make sure I had one hour free before the party time. Half an hour later, I knew the rain would not stop, so I wore a rain jacket and did all the grilling on my patio.
Coconut Water Vinegar
Before sharing my recipe calling for coconut water vinegar in a salad dressing, I want to give you a quick lesson on coconut cream, coconut milk and coconut water.
When you remove the coconut husk (mesocarp) from a whole coconut, you can see the coconut shell (endocarp). After cracking the coconut shell, you get to the natural water inside the nut and this is called coconut water. The white meaty part inside the shell is the coconut meat (endosperm). Grating a chunk of white of coconut meat with a coconut grater gives you fresh wet grated coconut. To extract coconut milk, add a cup of water to 2 cups fresh grated coconut, then squeeze out the white milky liquid; this is concentrated coconut milk. (Thai call this the “head” of coconut milk). Add 1/2 cup water to the used grated coconut to extract a thin coconut milk (Thai call this the “tail” of coconut milk). Let the coconut milk sit, and a fat creamy layer will form on the top; this is the coconut cream.
Back to the coconut water. Coconut water occurs naturally and has nothing to do with the process of making coconut milk. Nature provides the coconut meat and water as nutrients for shoots to grow near the three germination pores, or “eyes,” on the coconut. This coconut water inside the coconut shell is very good for the coconut plant, but it is also very good for you. It is full of vitamins and minerals. It is especially high in potassium and electrolytes, and has a neutral ph level. I strongly recommend that tourists traveling to paradise island drink this natural drink to help with rehydration, and it has the added benefit of being a sterile juice inside the shell.
In the Philippines, this natural water is used to make coconut water vinegar, but I don’t see it being made in Thailand where we use 5% distilled vinegar. I love the flavor of coconut water vinegar and felt inspired to use it in the cucumber-pineapple-tomato salad that I served with my grilled cinnamon pork tenderloin. Distilled vinegar will work for a substitution, but for this recipe, I strongly recommend that you try it at least once with coconut water vinegar.
I love the blend of cucumber, pineapple and tomato with a hint of coconut flavor. Brown sugar adds a nice touch to it. One of my students told me that the leftover dressing had such a great flavor that she ended up using it in a martini. In this case, I would recommend using mint instead of cilantro for the herb option.
Learn more about: Vinegar
Yum Sam Khler4 tablespoons coconut water vinegar or distilled vinegar 4 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sliced cucumber, about 1/2 English cucumber 1 cup sliced pineapple, about 1/3 whole pineapple, or from a can 1 cup sliced tomatoes, about 2 medium size 1 shallot, peeled and sliced 1/4 cup snipped cilantro leaves
Heat vinegar, sugar and salt in a small pot over low heat and stir until sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside.
Place cucumber, pineapple, tomato, shallot, and cilantro in a medium-size salad bowl; when the dressing is cool, pour it over and stir. This recipe works best when the salad and dressing are mixed together from 1 to 8 hours before serving.
Thai Vegetarian Cooking
Thai Cooking for Kids
Gluten-Free Recipe© 2010 Pranee Khruasanit Halvorsen