Northern Mariana Islands Territory Foods
Young coconuts are already very hard and covered with a thin, green skin. Though it’s possible to eat gelatinous young coconut flesh, these are usually gathered to drink the juice, called coconut water, inside. A mature coconut has a thick, brown, fibrous husk covering a hard shell. Inside, the coconut meat is pure white, very firm, and has a more nutty than sweet flavor. Grated coconut is a common addition to fruit salads, curries, puddings, and baked goods. Mature coconuts also contain liquid, but have far less coconut water than a young coconut. Cooking fresh or dried coconut with water and squeezing out the moisture yields coconut milk, a common ingredient for sauces and drinks.
The coconut has been common in the Northern Mariana Islands for perhaps 4,000 years. Called niyok in Chamorro, it’s an important staple and a part of the local culture. Every part of the coconut tree has a use. Coconut and coconut milk are everyday ingredients in Chamorro food, especially in soups, salads, and stews. Coconut milk is also a common drink. Though the coconut is becoming less a part of daily life as the Northern Marianas is influenced by other cultures, it’s still a regular on the dining table.