Archive for October 20th, 2011

If you like toasted coconut, you’ll love this beef salad. Flank steak is marinated in a brine made with coconut milk, and then it is grilled, thinly sliced, and served on a bed of lettuce, cucumber, and onion garnished with cilantro and strips of grill-toasted fresh coconut. To cut the fresh coconut into strips, you crack the coconut, drain the liquid, and use a vegetable peeler to shave the coconut meat into strips. The coconut adds richness to the lean flank steak and creates a highly aromatic main dish salad.

Prep: 30 minutes (plus 5 minutes for brine)
Brine: 2 to 4 hours
Grill: 16 to 20 minutes.

– Long-handled tongs
– Grill skillet or vegetable grill tray
– Heat-resistant grill glove
– Long-handled basting brush.

Gas: Direct heat, medium-high (400° to 450°F)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, light ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 3 inches above the fire.

For the steak and coconut:
21/3 cups Javanese Coconut Brine
1 large flank steak, about 1½ pounds
1 coconut
3 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Oil for coating grill grate
For the dressing and salad:
¼ cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coconut liquid from the coconut
3 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
½ to 1 teaspoon sriracha hot sauce or other hot sauce
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 small head Boston or Bibb lettuce, separated into leaves
1 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced sweet onion such as Vidalia
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

1. For the steak and coconut: Set aside 3 tablespoons of the coconut brine and refrigerate. Put the remaining coconut brine in a gallonsize zipper-lock bag. Poke the flank steak all over with a fork or skewer to create holes. Add the steak to the bag, press out the air, seal, and massage the liquid gently into the meat. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours.
2. Crack the coconut, saving 3 tablespoons of the liquid for the dressing. Shave the coconut meat into strips, using a vegetable peeler. You should have about 2 cups of strips. Toss the coconut strips in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil.
3. Remove the steak from the brine and discard the brine. Pat the steak dry with paper towels and rub all over with the remaining 2 tablespoons peanut oil. Sprinkle all over with the salt. Let the steak rest at room temperature before grilling, at least 30 minutes.
4. Heat the grill as directed.
5. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Grill the coconut strips in a grill skillet or vegetable grill tray until lightly browned in spots, 10 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grill the steak directly over the heat for 8 to 10 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium-done (135° to 140°F), basting a few times with the reserved marinade.
6. Let the steak rest, loosely covered with foil, for 10 minutes before slicing. Cut across the grain into thin, diagonal slices.
7. For the dressing and salad: While the steak rests, whisk together the rice vinegar, sugar, reserved coconut liquid, peanut oil, garlic, hot sauce, and salt.
8. Line a platter or plates with the lettuce, cucumber, and onion. Drizzle with half of the dressing. Arrange the sliced steak and coconut strips on top. Drizzle with the remaining half of the dressing, garnish with the cilantro (if using), and serve.

1. Use a hammer (or the back of a cleaver) to drive a clean screwdriver through the dark “eyes” of the coconut. Drain the liquid coconut “water” out the holes into a bowl. Taste the coconut water.If it tastes sweet, it is fine. If it tastes sour, the coconut is rotten and should be discarded. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the coconut water for the dressing and refrigerate or freeze the rest (add coconut water to drinks or rice cooking liquid for a subtle coconut flavor).
2. Hammer the coconut shell all around its middle until it cracks and breaks in half. Put the halves in a kitchen towel and hammer each into about 6 pieces. Use the screwdriver to separate any brown shell stuck to the white coconut meat on each piece.
3. Use a vegetable peeler to trim the thinner brown skin from the coconut meat. Reserve half of the trimmed coconut meat for another use (refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 6 months). Use the vegetable peeler to shave thin, wide strips of coconut from each piece of the remaining coconut meat.

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