Månha is the Chamorro word for young coconuts. The sweet juice (commonly called “coconut water) and tender coconut meat are used to make delicious Chamorro dishes — desserts, mainly — such as månha pie, sweet tamåles, apigigi’, månha titiyas and åhu.
Click on the video link below for a demonstration of cutting open the young coconuts to extract the juice and meat.
Pedro “PoP” Aguon was a chef in the Navy. PoP passed down to his family his extensive knowledge of cooking, and his daughter, Arlene Sablan Aguon, is kind enough to share some of PoP’s recipes and cooking tips with us. That was PoP’s way, sharing with the younger generations in order to keep the knowledge of our Chamorro culture and heritage alive. Rest in peace, PoP…your family and friends miss you terribly.
“My PoP’s taught me how to roast a fresh pumpkin. It makes the best pies, Buchi Buchi & Turnovers. It makes the home smell like Thanksgiving too. ENJOY. ” ~ @untie R
Freshly roasted pumpkin tastes better than any canned pumpkin you buy in stores. Try roasting pumpkins PoP’s way. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂
Roasted Pumpkins ~ A Pop Aguon Tutorial
Roast the pumpkins at 350 degrees. The roasting time varies based on the size of your pumpkins. Medium pumpkins can take between 45 minutes to one hour. Check at the 45-minute mark; the pumpkin flesh should be tender when pierced with a fork. Continue to roast until tender.
When I was a little girl, one of my jobs during party preparations was to kåmyu (grate) fresh coconuts. I remember going through a pile of coconuts, shaking each one to ensure there was still coconut water in them (if it didn’t slosh with liquid, that meant it was bad). I was too young and wasn’t allowed to husk them (we used the pointy end of a pick or a sharpened branch for this task), nor did my mom allow me to use the machete to crack open the coconuts, but I was a pro with the kåmyu!
This kåmyu (and the photo) belongs to David A. Punzalan.
This wasn’t an easy job–at least not for a young kid about 8 or 10 years old. I had to make sure I didn’t grate any of the coconut shell or I’d be picking them out of the bowl! The coconut flakes HAD to be nice and snowy white, and grated extra fine, especially if we were mixing it in with kelaguen.
Now that my family and I live in the states, we don’t have easy access to fresh coconuts. We are at the mercy of what’s imported to our local grocery stores. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to come home from the store, crack open a coconut and find that it’s already spoiled.
The coconuts we buy come already husked (not that we own a pick anyway with which to husk them). We don’t own a machete either, but we make due by using an extremely sharp meat cleaver.
Here is a video of my husband, Roland, using a cleaver to crack open a coconut. He takes his time doing this, but only because he’s using a cleaver from my rather expensive knife set (he KNOWS not to damage my prized knife set!). Anyhow, to use a cleaver to crack open a coconut, make small nicks around the middle of the shell until you’ve created a crack. Hit it a little harder as the crack gets bigger, then carefully pry it apart. Make sure the coconut water inside is clear and doesn’t smell (cloudy, sour smelling liquid is a sure sign of spoilage).
Have I mentioned that I have a crazy, goofy husband? He just HAD to throw in his “signature” by messing with my video at the end. LOL
Once you crack open the coconut, pull out your kåmyu and get to work grating. The video below shows my 11 year old daughter gingerly grating the coconut (she’s still afraid of scraping her hands–but why should she be fearful of a thick piece of stainless steel with multiple sharp, jagged “teeth” sticking out of it?). 🙂
You can make lots of things with freshly grated coconut — coconut candy, make fresh-squeezed coconut milk, add it to kelaguen, or toast it for sprinkling over coconut cream pie. Whatever you use it for, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. Fresh beats frozen or canned coconut any day.
Have you ever had to line a round baking pan with parchment paper, and wondered how to cut a relatively perfect circle freehand?
Well, here’s my super simple way of doing it.
First, get your pan out. Cut out a piece of parchment paper big enough to cover the entire pan. You should have roughly a square piece of paper.
Fold the piece of parchment paper in half to form a triangle, bringing the opposite corners together. Fold the triangle in half again, bringing one corner toward the other (the folded edges should be together). Keep your finger on the tip or point of the triangle (this point will not change as you continue your folding).
Fold the triangle again, keeping your finger on the tip of the triangle and bringing the folded edges together. Repeat the folding several more times until you can’t fold it anymore, ensuring you keep the sides with the folded edges together.
Once you have a thin sliver of a triangle, place the tip of the triangle in the center of your pan. Fold the top of the triangle where it comes to the outer edge of your pan. Cut off any excess parchment paper (the part you folded).
Unfold the triangle. You will have a circle that fits perfectly over your pan.