Nothing beats the satisfaction of cracking open a fresh coconut. Young varieties contain only a thin lining of meat. So when we were making onde-onde, we used mature brown-husked ones, which have a thicker layer of flesh. To determine ripeness, choose a heavy coconut that audibly sloshes with liquid when shaken. If fresh coconuts aren’t readily available, we have a trick. Unsweetened, dehydrated coconut meat—not to be confused with the moist, sweetened variety—can be steamed and used as a substitute for freshly grated. To find it, look for it labeled as coconut powder, desiccated, or finely shredded for baking. To rehydrate desiccated coconut, boil 1″ water in a 14″ flat-bottom wok fitted with an 11″ bamboo steamer. Spread a layer of coconut in a 9″ pie plate and place the plate in the steamer base. Cover and steam the coconut, stirring occasionally, until it is moist and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Let coconut cool completely before using.
How to Rehydrate Dried Coconut