The Thai are often credited in historical explanations of the coconut grater, attributing its invention – or at least its gained popularity – to the use within kitchens across the country. To be sure, these tools were used, in some form, by all people across Asia and Polynesia. Today, they come in all different versions, from simple, handheld scrapers to more mechanical, modern graters.
Someone – maybe a Thai, maybe someone else – decided that they could be much more efficient, and certainly more comfortable, if they use a seated, bench-style grater to clean out coconuts. Ultimately, it became one of the more popular styles, and for anyone that’s ever cleaned a coconut with a handheld tool, one use is sure to show why.
It’s a simple concept. A person sits on what is essentially a small bench, and the physical, metal grater is fastened to the edge of that same bench, which comes to a point at the end. The user sits astride the bench and grates the coconut, using the hard brown shell as protection from the sharp metal teeth. The shredded coconut drops into a bowl below the grater.
There’s a beautiful sense of simplicity to the device that makes it as much of a home decor item as it does a useful tool. They are very straightforward to make, even for the mechanically challenged. Here, we provide instructions, along with a quick-and-easy coconut milk recipe. Let the (green) curry cookoffs begin.
Step-by-Step Instructions to Build a Seated Coconut Scraper
1. Buy a coconut grater, like the one pictured. Amazon sells them for less than $5. You can look for them in Chinatown or general stores, but they are hard to find.
2. Select and purchase wood. The higher quality you use, the more stable (and good looking) your scraper will be. A one-by-six inch board is sufficient for the bench.
3. Cut the 3 pieces of wood – the top bench and two legs – to the desired length. Usually, two feet is a comfortable bench length. The height of the legs depends on your measurements.
4. Cut the bench board so that it tapers down to a point at one end. The width of the point should be the same size as the width of the metal grater. You can be creative in designing how the bench tapers down to the point. If you don’t own or have access to a saw, ask your local hardware store to cut it for you.
5. Screw the legs into the bench. Screw the grater onto the pointed edge of the bench. Add fasteners as needed for stability.
6. Add flair to your bench with carvings or design details. Get shaving.
Quick and Easy: How to Make Homemade Coconut Milk
1. Shave coconut.
2. Measure out 2 cups of water for every cup of coconut shavings.
3. Bring water to the brink of boil. Remove from heat and pour into blender.
4. Add coconut shavings to water. Let it steep for a few minutes.
5. Blend shavings and water on high for 2-3 minutes.
6. Strain mixture with a cheesecloth.
7. Use immediately or refrigerate. The coconut milk will separate after a night in the fridge. This is normal. Let it reach room temperature and stir before using.