Like really good Thai dishes, this spice blend is balanced and complex: a little sweet, a little hot and a little citrusy. Toasting the coconut brings out its natural sweetness and dries it out enough that you can grind it without making a paste. Watch the coconut carefully when toasting it, especially if your oven runs hot - it can go from raw to burnt pretty quickly.
Position an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Bake the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until light golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, put the lime zest on a paper towel-lined microwave-safe plate and microwave in 30-second increments, stirring with a fork in between, until the zest is dry and almost brittle, 2 to 4 minutes total. (The timing will largely depend on the power of your microwave.)
Add the cooled coconut, dried lime zest, chili flakes, coriander, garlic, and salt to a spice grinder and grind to the texture of very coarse cornmeal. Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Try this spice blend sprinkled on sauteed shrimp, grilled chicken or steamed fish; or sprinkle it on warm buttered popcorn or flatbread.
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