I always wonder why we called coconut grater “Kra Tai Khood Ma Praw” in Thai. It basically means a rabbit for grating coconut. I couldn’t find any connection between coconuts and rabbits whatsoever. And rabbits don’t eat coconut, as far as I know.
Anyway, in Asian households, we cook with coconut a lot. Coconut is used in savory and sweet dishes. We usually buy fresh coconut and open it with a strong knife. This is quite tricky because coconut shell is very hard. Once we crack the shell open, it reveals beautiful white fresh and delightful coconut water inside. Coconut water is very refreshing. It’s very rewarding to drink it right away. Now time to grate the coconut. There are many kinds of equipment used in grating the coconut.
The most common one is made with a strong plank of wood with a grater attached to the front of it. Yes, this is what we called the rabbit for grating coconut. It doesn’t look anything like a rabbit to be honest. To use on it, you need to sit on it and push the coconut up and down the sharp edge of the grater. This process will produce the fluffy snowflake-like softness.
Grated coconut is extracted for coconut cream and coconut milk. It can also be blended into the curry pastes and used as highlight ingredient in many dishes. After toasted, grated coconut gives a beautiful alluring aroma. You can also eat it fresh. It’s so rich and delicious.
I love the simplicity of toasted coconut in sugar. It quickly becomes soft and caramelized. You can snack on this or wrapped it in glutinous rice dough and steam to heaven. This is one of my favorite desserts. Traditionally, you can steam the rice dough in banana leaf, but I have a simple trick to avoid this skill-demanding task. You can steam the rice dough in the bed of grated coconut and sprinkle these delicious snowflakes all over the rice balls. Grated coconut will prevent the rice balls from sticking together. The oozing hot coconut rice balls are very addictive. They are sticky, soft and sweet. And yes, it’s so easy to make.
Steamed Rice Balls with Coconut
2 cup glutinous rice flour
1 cup hot water
12 pandan leaves- chopped
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cup grated coconut
1 tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
Additional grated coconut for steaming- about 1 cup
In a blender, add pandan leaves and hot water and blend for 1 minute. Strain through a fine sift and reserve pandan leave juice. Add salt into the juice and stir well.
In a large bowl, add glutinous rice flour and add pandan leave juice. Stir well with a wooden spoon, and let the mixture cool down a bit before kneading it with your hand until smooth and pliable. Cover the dough with damp cloth and keep aside.
In a pan, using medium heat, add grated coconut, sugar and salt. Stir continuously for 5-7 minutes until the sugar melt into the softened caramelized coconut. Add toasted sesame seed and stir well. Let the filling cool down.
To make rice balls, take about 2 tbsp of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten the ball into thin circle sheet and add about 2 tbsp filling in the center. Wrap the dough around the filling and roll the dough in your hands until it becomes a smooth ball. Do the same with the rest of the dough and the filling.
To cook, prepare a steamer over a high heat stove. You can also rub a little coconut oil or butter on the steaming rack to prevent the dough from sticking onto the rack. When the water is steaming, sprinkle grated coconut in the steamer and gently add coconut rice balls. Add more coconut on top of the rice balls and steam for 15 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy.