Kerisik is a coconut base ingredient found in Malay and Nyonya cuisines. Fresh coconut is grated, toasted, and pounded to form a sprinkle or paste. It is used mainly in curries and salads to provide body and flavor.
There is no substitute for kerisik and one is not really needed. It can be easily made at home. Only fresh grated coconut is required. Frozen grated coconut will work but desiccated coconut may be a little too dry for this purpose. You can buy frozen grated coconut at most Asian markets here in the US.
Traditionally, kerisik is pounded in a mortar and pestle. It takes anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes of labor, depending on the texture preferred. This varies from sprinkle-like to butter-like consistencies. The one that I am familiar with is between a sprinkle and a paste. It is slightly moist with just some bits of the toasted coconut clumping together. This kerisik is good for rendang (dry caramelized curry) and kerabu (salad).
Although I have not tried it, I have seen kerisik being made successfully in a food processor like nut butters. Simply pulse to turn the toasted coconut into a sprinkle and process to form a paste or butter.
- 1 cup (100g) fresh grated coconut
- Toast (without oil) grated coconut in a fry pan, stirring constantly over low heat until the general distribution of the coconut is golden brown. This should take about 10 minutes.
- Immediately transfer toasted coconut to a mortar. Using the pestle, grind and pound toasted coconut in a circular motion to release its oil and fragrance. As you continue to pound, the coconut will become moist and its color will deepen. Stop pounding before it turns to butter. This should take about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Remove and use in rendangs (dry caramelized curries) and kerabus (salads). Kerisik may be refrigerated up to 2 weeks or frozen for a couple of months.
The yield from the recipe above is sufficient for most curries and salads. I prefer to make the kerisik as and when needed so that it is fresh. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 weeks and freeze for up to 2 months.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 😎