Pierce one of the three holes on the top of the coconut with a sharp pointed stick, or a clean ice pick. One of them will easily puncture. Turn up side down and pour the water from the inside of the coconut into a cup. Set aside.
Place the whole coconut in a 400°F oven for 3 minutes. Remove from the oven; hit hard with a hammer to break it open. With the tip of a knife, pry out the coconut meat. Peel the brown skin of the meat only if the recipe requires it. In the case of coconut milk, it is not necessary; in the case of Cocadas Blancas, it is.
Shred or grate the coconut meat; you should have about 3½ to 4 cups. Place it in a blender with the coconut water and about 1 cup of the hot water. Blend for 1 minute. Pour into a cheesecloth-lined colander over a bowl and press to extract all of the milk from the coconut meat. Return the coconut meat to the blender and repeat with the remaining 2 cups of hot water. Add the milk from this pressing to the first one. Repeat with extra hot water if necessary, to yield a total of 4 cups of coconut milk. Discard the coconut meat and put the prepared coconut milk aside in the refrigerator for the preparation of the rice.
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