It’s been about two weeks since I returned home from 10 days in Hawaii, and I’m happy to report that I’ve managed to completely avoid the usual “post-vacation blues” that I sometimes get after a long break. This trip was absolute perfection, and I’ve brought the aloha back with me in the form of a renewed (although never completely abandoned) coconut obsession. I’ll share a super quick and easy Tropical Coconut Chicken recipe today that features shredded coconut that I brought home with me from Oahu. And stay tuned for more coconut-themed awesomeness inspired by the trip in the next few posts!
Quick Coconut Story
Loren and I did not randomly select Oahu as a destination. One of our good friends (and one of my favorite people) moved there a few years ago, and we’ve been meaning to make a trip out ever since. We finally made it happen, and we had the pleasure of experiencing full immersion into the lives of two local dudes making a living climbing up into coconut trees and removing the nuts for folks all over the island — and making awesome stuff with their spoils. I’m actually planning on dedicating a full post to the two of them and their business (Roots and Branches if you want a sneak peek), but suffice it to say that Al Smith and Hans Heinz — R & B founders — know their coconuts.
One of the projects Hans was working on during our visit was to supply shredded coconut to a local brewery for a coconut porter, and I got to sit in on initial sample production — and take home the winnings! In my carry-on luggage, I brought home a zip-lock bag full of fresh Hawaiian shredded coconut, which will be featured in today’s recipe!
I have so much more to share about all things coconut I learned from Hans, but for now, this recipe will have to suffice. It’s super easy and pretty quick too. And as always, it’s just the baseline for your own intuitive cooking. I encourage you to switch up the herbs and spices or to add in some heat if you want (my body doesn’t love spicy lately, but this recipe lends itself really well to spice). Whatever flavors suit your fancy will work with this simple starting point.
Quick Chicken Story
If you’ve ever been to Hawaii, you know that chickens wander freely the way pigeons do on the mainland. I wouldn’t say they’re present in enormous flocks, but there are LOTS of chickens EVERYWHERE. Despite having been to Kauai back in the late 90’s, I hadn’t known about the chicken situation, so seeing them roam freely on roadways, in parking lots, on the hillsides, along the beach, and even passing through our outdoor seating at a restaurant was pretty amusing to me.
We had a whole family of come through as we enjoyed our signature margaritas at Cholo’s Homestyle Mexican after our Sunday beach cleanup with Hawaii Ocean Ambassadors. The babies were so cute that Loren couldn’t resist picking one up mid-meal. I was a little nervous that he might be bringing chicken germs a little too close to our meal, but the little chicky was so cute that it didn’t matter.
Seeing these little guys and gals running around everywhere gave new meaning to the classic joke about chickens crossing roads — which wasn’t lost on one of my travel buddies who is obsessed with puns and dad jokes. So going forward, chickens will make me think of Hawaii. That’s why I chose to make this coconut recipe with chicken.
- Crack eggs into a shallow bowl and beat until completely uniform
- Spread shredded coconut out on a large flat plate
- Heat coconut oil in a shallow cast iron skillet at medium-high heat
- When oil is hot (test by dropping a piece of coconut in and seeing if it sizzles)
- dip chicken tenders into egg on both sides then into shredded coconut on both sides until coated
- Place coated chicken into pan and cook on both sides until done in the middle (a few minutes each -- the coconut should brown a little)
- Cover a large flat plate with 3-4 paper towels and place cooked chicken on paper towels to absorb some of the oil
- Season immediately on both sides (make sure at least one of the seasonings you choose has some salt in it, otherwise they'll be a bit bland)
- Repeat until all chicken is done
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