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I need coconut water AND coconut milk

  • j

For a reception I'm giving, I want to serve a coconut milk-based ceviche and also have coconut water available for drinking.

The coconut milk: does anyone know where in Manhattan I can pick up fresh-pressed coconut milk? It seems like that's something we should be able to get pretty readily by now.

The coconut water: I can't deal with the price, physical volume and inconvenient opening of buying young coconuts, chilling them and then hacking them open to serve guests. My local Thai (Zabb City, not perfect but MUCH better than most NYC Thai! Bizarrely, the chefs are from Isaan, but the restaurant doesn't offer an Isaan gai yang) sells "Young Coconut Juice" in translucent plastic cans with an attched two-tine fork for spearing the gelatinous slivers of coconut meat floating inside. It might be slightly sweetened, but it's not bad, and I actually LIKE the packaging. Has anyone seen this for sale anywhere? Or other larger volumes of coconut water? I'm going to have a guest list of roughly 40 people.

Thanks,

Jaze

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  1. For coconut water, my friends tell me you can find it in random street corner delis here, as well as Whole Foods.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      I would suggest getting coconut water at Bonobo's on 23rd & Broadway.

    2. HAve you tried Whole Foods MArket, mine in San DIego carries the Coco's, they could probably order it for you.

      The also have KNUDSEN brand Coconut nectar.

      1. I buy Vita Coco coconut water at Whole Foods - but I get small individual juice boxes - I'm not sure if you can buy in larger quantities. But it's goooooood.

        1. For fresh pressed coconut milk, there is a hole-in-the-wall kind of Chinese dessert place called "Ren Ren" on bayard that sells them by cups. If you ask them I am sure they can get you more.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kobetobiko

            Whoah! That's fantastic! Thanks, kobetobiko!

            I wonder if it's just the milk they sell, or if they include the cream...

            And HLing, that sounds very much like the thing I was talking about. I'll try that Thai place - I had to go there anyway.

            A friend gave the thumbs up for a canned Thai product called Kimbo - 17.5 fluid ounces in a St. Ides' Malt Liquor Tall-sized can, complete with filmy coconut, and only $1 at the Chinese grocery where he found it.

            Alas, his email - complete with photo of him cherishing the can - neglected to mention the bloody NAME OF THE STORE!

          2. '...."Young Coconut Juice" in translucent plastic cans with an attched two-tine fork for spearing the gelatinous slivers of coconut meat floating inside. It might be slightly sweetened, but it's not bad, and I actually LIKE the packaging. Has anyone seen this for sale anywhere?...'

            Those might be the ones you can get in Chinese grocery stores in the freezer section. They have a layer of blue plastic all around depicting blue skies and oceans (maybe?), once you unwrap you will see the semi-translucent plastic tub with lid, and two-tine fork taped to the tub. They are delicious, and about $.99 each. I've gotten them from the Thai grocery store on Moscoe between Mulberry and Mott. I might have seen them also at Kam Kuo on Canal, too. And yes, they are slightly sweetened, but not too. If you want unsweetened, there's also the Harvest Bay coconut water that you can get at Fairway for 1.59 for a small 11.fl oz, but not as tasty as the Thai brand.

            I don't know much about coconut milk other than the canned ones. It'd be interesting to find out if there are fresh coconut milk to be purchased in Manhattan.

            6 Replies
              1. re: kobetobiko

                Kobetobiko, sorry, I did read your post. My memories are short these days. :)

                For what it's worth though, I always think of Ren Ren as the place that offers Rattle Snake soup on the Chinese menu, but never actually served it to me.

                Also, I wonder about how fresh coconut taste here in the US, vs. say, Thailand. Is the frozen goodness from the native countries still better tasting? Also, at the previously named Healthy Dessert, and now named "Whatever" Chinese dessert place, the coconut they use is, in Chinese, Hai2 Di3 Ye2 (which means coconut under the sea) and is very different from the coconut taste that we associate with on coconut macarons, for example. The former for refreshing whereas the latter is rich.

                1. re: HLing

                  Hi HLing,

                  Ren Ren is indeed the place that serves all kinds of herbal tonic soup with "exotic" ingredients. I usually just go there for the traditional desserts, like red / green bean sweet soup or the sweet rice dumplings. I often wonder how many people actually order those tonic soups, but I did see some people buying several types for take-out. I guess it is indeed a unique niche market!

                  For coconut MILK, I don't think it is much of a difference between the canned ones from Thailand or USA. The fresh ones tend to be a bit more "flavorful" because it wasn't diluted or separated. But the difference is very subtle and probably not an issue for cooking.

                  Coconut WATER is a different story. I found the ones from Thailand or Asia to be A LOT better to true to original taste than the ones produced in the US (or I think they are from Brazil / Mexico). I don't know why. It also depends on the brands, because some added preservatives and there is a metallic taste from the cans. The frozen ones that you mentioned (in plastic jars) are probably one of the best things out there closest to fresh coconut juice from the real young coconut.

                  I know the "sea coconut" that you are talking about! I travel to Hong Kong and Japan quite frequently every year (as I have family members in both places). In Hong Kong sea coconut is very commonly used in desserts and Cantonese styled soups. There are dried ones (available in most Chinese grocery stores here) and fresh ones (the one you had in the dessert) and they are supposed to be very good for health, particularly to smooth your throat or cough. It is a completely different thing from coconut, and the "meat" is translucent when fresh. The texture is like chewy hard jello (kind of like konnyaku). They go very well in mango sago dessert that they used to serve at the old dessert place!

              2. re: HLing

                I don't know why, but I'm a bit suspicious of the US store coconut waters. They seem to be enjoying a little rage right now, usually adulterated with passion fruit or mango juice or whatnot, and all tarted up with sugar. The plain coconut water is just such a lovely drink, really delicious and light - adding the sugar seems wrong.

                1. re: Jaze

                  There are ones (Harvest Bay) without added sugar nor passion fruit and the like. It's alright, and comes in semi-hard material but not cans. I find the ones in metal cans (Asian or Western brands alike) a little off in taste though. Also, if it's not chilled it doesn't taste as good. I used to get the Thai ones straight from the freezer, and by the time I'm done with working out, it's mostly melted but still icy chill. That's tasty, even if it IS sweetened.

                  But speaking of canned...I just bought a small can of coconut milk from Fairway to make Kanten (japanese jello) and was pleasantly surprised to find that this brand (Thai Kitchen? Thai Market? sorry, threw away the can already. It's got lots of red and black colors on the can) has no additives. The jello turned out to have the creme on the top layer, and lighter white on the lower layer...the French Manicure look. The taste is pure and not can-like at all.

                  1. re: Jaze

                    actually, the ones that are all the rage are unsweetened and as far as i can tell by the cooler at my yoga studio, plain is the only one that people want. I understand why they have become so popular. They taste great, are low in calories and have no fat or artificial anything.
                    they're just a little pricey for a quick bev.