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!
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 leaf add a small slice of lime rind.
All photos Lindaraxa
Recipe adapted fronm Edna Lewis