Raw Food Lab – Dehydrated Coconut Wrappers

Rawwwwr!

A week ago Friday we had a raw food lab at The Natural Epicurean where the students worked with dehydrated coconut puree wrappers. “Dehydrated coconut puree wrappers?” you ask. Well, if you open some (okay, 36) fresh coconuts and scoop out the meat…

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… then you blend up the meat with some liquid, maybe some sweeteners and/or some spices…

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… then spread out the puree onto a dehydrator tray …

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… the result (after one hour of dehydrating) is a pliable gluten-free wrapper that has tons of applications. We did three types of coconut wrappers (1) sweet banana coconut (2) seasoned Indian samosa “dough” and (3) Italian “pasta” for raviolis. To go with each type of coconut wrapper, we prepared a wide array of fillings: fruit, sweet “cream,” fruit puree, raw ricotta, cauliflower and peas, and more.

Below: Banana-coconut wrapper for raw fruit crepes. You can see the raw samosa filling just above that. 

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Raw “cooking” is not quite like regular cooking, but the result of the lab was three amazing dishes which we raved over. My favorite was the ravioli with raw ricotta – it was rich and delicious. The raw samosas with mango-cilantro chutney were outstanding, as were the sweet papaya-mango crepes. The coconut wrappers had a slight chewiness that I thought perfectly matched the texture you’d expect in a regular ravioli and very similar to a conventional crepe. Samosas are usually crispy on the outside, which is tough to achieve in raw food, but the flavors were definitely there.

The main challenge in making these wrappers is that they have a tendency to stick to the Paraflexx sheets. You just have to be careful when peeling the non-stick Paraflexx sheets from the dehydrating coconut puree. Usually you need to go through this procedure so you can flip the dehydrated product over to ensure thorough drying.

The great thing about learning the dehydrated coconut wrapper technique is that it has loads of applications. You can season the wrappers any number of ways, then fill them and top them using a variety of options. Your only limit is your creative mind. We were lucky to have had Chef Alicia Ojeda work with us yet again on on this lab – her talent for flavor and texture really made everything a success.

Here’s an idea – dehydrated burrito wrapper made from coconut! Cumin and chili powder…I think it’s a winner. Maybe I will test it out and report back. Tough to do beans using raw method, though.

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Home Made Coconut Yogurt

Ah, home made yogurt! Fresh and delicious.

A Word on Fermentation

As a fermented food, making yogurt at home brings an element of danger. Normally leaving a moist food out at room temperature for over 24 hours translates into multiple runs to the restroom later that day, so what is it about a controlled fermentation that safely produces some of the world’s favorite flavors? I’m talking about things like yogurt, kimchi (kim chee), sauerkraut, kombucha, sourdough bread, aged cheeses, etc.

Somehow fermenting inhibits the pathogens from growing on the food, while beneficial bacteria and yeasts flourish. In fact, fermenting food is a known and traditional technique for improving the shelf life of food and is probably one reason it became popular. Even so, it’s still a kind of homestead alchemy that I imagine most people have never attempted or considered. Until I came to the Natural Epicurean, I would never have tried, quite frankly.

Below: Fresh coconut yogurt with homestead honey. Looks like ice cream, right? I say it tastes just as good! :)

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Thai Fresh Cooking Class

I’ve had varying degrees of success creating Thai dishes at home (I have tried coconut fish soup, and another time a curry), so I was incredibly excited to see a Groupon deal for a Thai class for two at Thai Fresh. I’ve eaten there several times and have found the food to be exceptionally flavorful and satisfying. The chance to learn from owner Jam Sanichat was too good to bypass!

The class agenda included some Thai “greatest hits”: Green curry, Pad Thai, sweet coconut rice, and coconut soup. There were about 14 of us in the group. Jam set up space for us in the Thai Fresh kitchen for us to prep our food, which we then ate!

Below: The prep area where the class took place.

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