I know, I know, you’re looking at the picture ^^^ and have concluded that I’ve been swigging the eggnog or gone completely batshit crazy, but hear me out. Yes, this is rice you are looking at, and it looks like plain old rice, the kind that makes you go zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz when you see it on your plate next to the chicken, but I mean it when I say it’s special. Hear. Me. Out.
This, Dear Readers, is coconut rice, and it’s freaking nirvana.
I’m not sure how such a simple recipe can yield something so delicious and utterly different than regular rice. My only guess is that some kind of magic alchemy happens when you simmer rice with rich, creamy coconut milk and fragrant cinnamon, because I couldn’t believe how flavorful and addictive this stuff is.
Trust me when I say it’s addictive: I scarfed this rice down in gluttonous quantities. This dish is not sweet (note that you use the unsweetened coconut milk–the kind you find in the Asian aisle at the supermarket) and yet it’s not exactly savory, either. It’s balanced and nuanced in a way that makes it taste a lot more sophisticated than the preparation.
It’s good enough for company, and is absolutely miraculous with roasted chicken, grilled meats or simple fish/shellfish dishes. It’s on the decadent end of the spectrum, so I think it’s best served alongside something fairly simple. You don’t want to serve it with some heavy, cream-laden entree; that would be overkill, I think.
But oh, next to something straightforward and simple? Suddenly, you’ll have a meal. A good one.
I’m gonna get bossy on your ass here: do not use the low-fat coconut milk in this recipe. If you use the low-fat coconut milk, the dish will be a pale and sad, sad, super-sad facsimile of the real McCoy.
*whispering in my best disappointed mother voice: soo sad*
If your supermarket carries the Chaokoh brand of coconut milk, use that. Grab that can of yummy goodness and run. But any full-strength coconut milk will yield delicious results. Don’t feel too guilty about using the full-fat stuff–the recipe yields 6-8 servings, which is perfectly reasonable.
If you adhere to serving size, you aren’t going to regret things, not one bit. I mean, even if you go over a little bit, because this rice is so dang delicious, I don’t think you will have a second thought.
Unless you eat the whole pot. Which you just might be tempted to do.
Self-control issues aside, give this one a try. It’s the holiday season, after all. And hey, that’s what January is for, right?
serves 6-8 as a side dish
slightly adapted from Gourmet Today
2 cups long grain white rice (such as basmati or jasmine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 (13-14 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (do not use low-fat here)
1 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)
Rinse the rice several times under cold water and drain in a sieve.
Melt the butter in a 2-to-3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, until the grains are coated and turn opaque, about 3 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk, water, salt and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook the rice until it is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it stand 5 minutes.
Fluff rice with a fork, discard cinnamon stick and stir in the peas and cilantro, if using.