With their soft flesh, young coconuts lend themselves to all sorts of uses, such as desserts, sauces, and noodles, like the ones in this Thai-inspired soup. It's easy to turn coconut flesh into noodles: Just scrape the flesh out of the shell using a small rubber spatula or a fruit scraper (a tool that looks like a magnifying glass without the lens) and then cut it into long, thin noodle shapes. If you really get into noodling, you might want to check out the coconut noodler - an inexpensive tool that magically turns coconut flesh into noodles right off of the shell.
2 young coconuts
4-inch piece fresh lemongrass, or 3 kaffir lime leaves, ribs removed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 cups peeled and seeded cubed squash, such as delicate or butternut (about 8 ounces peeled and seeded)
½ cup raw cashews, soaked
1 tablespoons fish sauce, or 2 teaspoons nama shoyu
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 Thai bird chile or other chile, sliced (optional)
Open the coconuts and drain the coconut water into a bowl or pitcher. Measure out 3 cups; if you come up short, add enough water to make up the difference (if you have more than 3 cups, drink the extra or save it for another use). Remove the flesh from the coconuts. With a coconut noodler or a knife, make noodles out of one-quarter of the flesh.
In a high-speed blender, combine the coconut water, lemongrass, and ginger and blend until the lemongrass and ginger are pulverized. Add the squash, cashews, fish sauce, lime juice, turmeric, and cayenne and blend until smooth.
Divide the noodles among soup bowls and ladle the soup over the noodles. Top with the cilantro, mint, shallots, and chile slices, if using.