Coconut Cuisine Vauclin MartiniqueCoconut Cuisine Vauclin Martinique
©Coconut Cuisine Vauclin Martinique|MDES

The Coconut

In all its states

Did you know. The coconut tree is not quite a tree but, like all palm trees, a large modified grass that can grow up to 25 m tall with a trunk (the “stipe”) topped by a huge crown of feather-like leaves called palms with leaves that can grow up to 5-6 m long.

The fruit of the coconut tree,

the famous coconut, is widely used in Creole cuisine, in many forms.

This large hollow seed is oblong in shape, slightly triangular with rounded corners. The uninitiated arriving in the Antilles are sometimes surprised to find that the nuts are green or orange-yellow (green when the fruit is unripe, orange when the coconut is fit for consumption) and not brown and hairy as they are found on metropolitan stalls. It is the natural husk of the fruit that must be removed to find the nut (“dry coconut”) also called “kernel.”

A fruit with multiple facets!

Coconut water

A clear, sweet liquid occupies three-quarters of the inner cavity of the still green fruit. Coconut water quenches thirst and can also be used as cooking water to poach fish or to cook rice. It delicately flavors marinades for meat and fish. In the West Indies, the still green nut is decapitated with three blows of a machete and the coconut water is consumed directly with a straw. The fruit is selected by shaking it to check the presence of liquid. One can also pierce the nut with a corkscrew by piercing two of its three eyes to recover its water. This one also has medicinal properties recognized in case of dehydration and gastroenteritis!

The pulp

Ripe, the coconut contains a subtly flavored and sweet creamy flesh that is called “nan-nan” and eaten raw with a teaspoon. The harder part of the pulp once dried can be eaten in pieces or grated. It is an ingredient inseparable from all exotic cuisines: Creole of course but also Asian, Indian, Indonesian, African or South American. It is with the pulp raw that we make milk and coconut cream. Grated, it is a perfect accompaniment to chicken, fish, pastries and desserts of the West Indian table: cakes, custards, blancmange, clafoutis, sorbets and ice cream…

Coconut milk and cream

Coconut milk does not exist in its natural state. It is a man-made product! It sweetly flavors poultry, meat or shrimp.

The coconut cream is what is used in most cocktails, such as the famous piña colada.

They are found ready-made in stores, usually in the exotic food section, canned or in brick. However, nothing replaces the taste of a “homemade” coconut milk.


– Grate the pulp from one coconut, express the juice and set aside.

– Pour boiling water over the pulp and let it drain for about ten minutes. Add the juice obtained to that already reserved.

– Repeat the operation until the pulp no longer expresses juice.

NB: To make the coconut cream replace the water with boiling milk

Original to Malaysia, the coconut palm, from the palm family (Arecaceae) was already present in Martinique at the time of Father Labat (end of the 17th century). The famous Dominican father particularly appreciated the fruit with a little orange flower water and sugar.


Jean-Baptiste Labat (1663-1738)