Friday, March 6, 2015

A Taste Of The South...Coconut Rice

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If you have ever had fish or shellfish with coconut rice, you know there is no return.  For me it was many moons ago, as part of a lunch on the terrace of a beautiful house by the sea.  The owners are long gone and so is the cook, a wonderful Colombian woman by the name of Albertina who made rice like no one else.  She was from the coast, near the beautiful city of Cartagena.  That was a memorable lunch and it goes to show you that a meal doesn't have to be fancy to stay in your mind forever.

Coconut rice is a dish prepared by soaking white rice in coconut milk or cooking it with coconut flakes.  It is found in many cultures around the world from Southeast Asia to the Caribbean.  It is also found in Southern cooking particularly accompanying dishes typical of the coastal South.

I make many variations of coconut rice, but the other night I came across Edna Lewis' recipe from her book The Gift Of Southern Cooking and it was so simple and sounded so good I decided to try it and serve it with the shrimp I had just bought.  If you have never had coconut rice with shrimp, I urge you to try this recipe.  Suffice it to say, Madame Mere had seconds, of the rice not the shrimp!

Edna Lewis cooks her coconut rice in the oven but I am more familiar with making it on top of the stove. Whichever method you use should render a wonderful dish.

If you want to learn to fry fish like a Southerner, stay tuned, it's coming up next!

Coconut Rice

Serves 4-6


14 oz canned or fresh coconut milk, unsweetened
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 small onion finely chopped, about 1/2 cup
1 medium fresh tomato, peeled seeded and finely chopped, 2/3 cup
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 kaffir lime leaf (optional)
Cilantro to garnish(optional)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the coconut milk into a heavy-bottomed pot or casserole.  Bring to a boil and add the rice, onion, tomato and salt.  Cover tightly with a lid or double thickness of foil. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender. Take out of the oven, test for seasoning, Fluff with two forks and serve.

*I sauteed the onions in a small amount of butter, added the tomatoes and the rice and then the milk, kaffir lime leaf and the salt. Brought to a boil. reduced heat and cooked on top of the stove for about 30 minutes. If you don't have kaffir lime leaves, add a small slice of lime rind.

All photos Lindaraxa
Recipe adapted fronm Edna Lewis   


  1. I don't believe I've ever tasted coconut rice, but I am anxious to give it a try. The colors look gorgeous together and it sounds delicious, especially with shrimp. We get great shrimp here straight from the Gulf of Mexico. Hope you have a lovely weekend.

    1. Go get that shrimp and try it with this..., and stay down there as long as you can. It's still miserable in our neck of the woods.

  2. Edna Lewis…wow, that is a name from the past. Did you go to Cafe Nicholson in NYC? The best. And then, she was the chef here at Fearrington in the 80's I think, and was in Gourmet, which is how I first ever heard of our village! Anyway, this sounds wonderful and I will most definitely try it. Just bought a pound of shrimp at Whole Foods yesterday!

    1. No, unfortunately I have never tasted her cooking but have made a few of her recipes. I bought some halibut yesterday at WF. on sale for !9.99. incredible the price but MM loves it. I'll have to say it was divine. very fresh.

  3. I bet that this would also go well with curry. The recipe does seem to be crying out for some black pepper. Taiwan is a great place for seafood, and I often get it when I go out, but I seldom prepare fish at home.

    Beautiful, appetizing, professional-quality pictures, by the way.

    1. Funny you mention the black pepper. This is very similar to the coconut rice they make in Nigeria but without the heat. As you well know, the recipe probably came from the African slaves who came from the coast. There they use different chili peppers which probably got to Africa from the New World via the slave trade. So black pepper or any kind of heat would work well. As to the photos, sometimes even I surprise myself. Thank you!

  4. How I love coconut milk soup with vegetables (the way Thai restaurants make it), so I know I'll enjoy this rice dish, as will my family. I've not heard of it before so look forward to making it and shall have my husband grill some shrimp per your recommendation. I know it will be mouthwatering.

    As for memorable meals, I completely understand what you mean. I recall meals with some wonderful friends, made with love, that I shall never forget; lasting memories of their good company even though they are no longer with us.

  5. I have never even heard of coconut rice but it sounds delicious. Actually I haven't used coconut milk in my cooking either but not long ago had a soup with coconut milk in it and the soup was outstanding. Of course, living in N FL, I am only about 30 min. north of the Gulf of Mexico so we are so blessed with fresh seafood year round. I have a favorite fish monger who gets shrimp in daily so this will be on next weeks menu. Thanks for sharing and BTW, when I do fried fish (usually grouper and had some just this past week) it is a MUST for me to serve it with cheese grits but that is the Southerner in me. Looking forward to trying the coconut rice with shrimp.


  6. Lovely. This goes into the week's menus. Thank you !

  7. So I cleaned out the pantry over the weekend and found a can of coconut milk that I have no idea why it was there. So this morning I see your recipe and immediately thought about that can of coconut milk! We had it for dinner tonight (with Costco shrimp we had on hand) and it was excellent! Thanks for sharing such a flavor and simple meal. It was perfect for a weeknight! Thank you!

    1. I'm delighted you liked it, Dennie. We have it often, usually with Costco shrimp too!


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