I love rice so much that I made it into its own category, right up there with main dishes and salads. And coconut rice is one of my favorites. It’s creamy (but vegan!), rich, with just a hint of sweetness and a welcome crunch from the coconut flakes. It smells divine, and is made with things you likely have on hand. Like a little black dress, Coconut Rice goes everywhere and with everything.
Coconut, Two Ways!
My recipe for Coconut Rice uses both coconut cream and unsweetened coconut flakes. Coconut cream is to coconut milk what heavy cream is to dairy milk. Same ingredients, higher fat content. You can conveniently buy canned coconut cream, or you can use a couple cans of full-fat coconut milk and spoon out the cream that rises to the top of the can. As a lighter alternative, you can use coconut milk, but the flavor will be lighter and less concentrated. Unlike some recipes that call for adding the coconut cream at the beginning, I wait until the end so the coconut flavor is more pronounced.
I start by toasting the coconut flakes. Keep a close eye as they can go from perfectly golden to burnt in seconds. Want to use up the bag of coconut all at once? Toast it all off and save some to make Palitaw-you won’t regret it! If you want more texture, you could use larger shaved coconut or even one of the crunchy coconut snacks-just break it up a little.
I always reach for jasmine when making Coconut Rice. Its nutty aroma pairs beautifully with the coconut flavors, and jasmine rice grains stay separate and fluffy. You can choose any long grain rice for this, but no matter what you use, be sure to rinse it! (For a full dissertation on why rinsing rice is so important, read my earlier post about making perfect rice, every time.)
At this point I like to let the rice rest 15-30 minutes. That helps it to cook more evenly. If you are pressed for time, you can skip this step.
At this point the rice should look shiny and be mostly cooked through. It will be al dente, meaning firm, but should not have a core. Take a taste and if it’s still too hard, add a little water and cook for a few more minutes.
Add the Coconut Cream Later
Although many recipes have you mix in the coconut milk at the beginning of the recipe, I think that is a mistake. Between the thick coconut cream and the sugar, the rice often scorches at the bottom, but is undercooked towards the top. Moreover, rice needs even moist heat to cook properly and adding the coconut cream at the beginning keeps the rice from absorbing water by coating it with an oily film. Finally, by adding the cream in later, you keep the rich flavor intact without cooking it out.
Once your rice is done, it’s always a good idea to let it sit for a few minutes, which helps it absorb any remaining moisture. Then scoop onto a platter and garnish with the scallions and toasted coconut.
Try it as the base for your favorite grain bowl, or as a side for Chicken Adobo. There’s honestly nothing that Coconut Rice doesn’t complement. I know you’re going to love this recipe; the incredible aroma and toasty coconut will make this a family favorite. Please take a moment to rate and comment on the recipe below, we love hearing from you. And let us see your creations by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen.
- Prep Time: 5 minutes (+30 minutes soaking time)
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: serves 4
- Category: rice
- Cuisine: Pan-Asian
- 2 cups jasmine or long grain white rice
- ¾ cup coconut cream
- 2 cups water
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoon shredded coconut
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallions
- Preheat the oven to 275. Place the coconut on a small baking sheet and spread it out so you have an even layer. Bake it for about 3-5 minutes until it is a nice golden color.
- Set the coconut aside to cool.
- Put the rice in a bowl and rinse it a couple of times with water to remove any excess starch. Put the rice in a heavy duty saucepan with a tight fitting lid. Add the water, sugar, and salt. Stir the rice to dissolve the sugar.
- If you have time, let the rice sit for 15-30 mins to let it start absorbing the water, which will help it cook more evenly.
- Bring the pot to a simmer over medium high heat (it takes about 3 minutes), stirring once or twice with a spatula or wooden spoon, to keep the rice from scorching at the bottom. Lower the heat to medium low, stir the rice once more, cover with a lid, and cook for 12 mins.
- Check the rice. At this point the rice will be al dente, cooked but still firm. The rice grains should look shiny and will have lost their chalky dull look. If you’re not sure, take a fork and try a small taste. If it still has a bit of a core, add 2-3 more tablespoons of water and cook, covered, on medium low for 5 extra mins.
- Then add the coconut cream, stir the rice once more, cover the pot again, lower the heat to low, and cook the rice for another 5 mins.
- Turn off the heat and let the rice sit covered in the pan for another 5 mins.
- Scoop the rice onto a platter. Top the rice with scallions and coconut and serve.
Keywords: coconut rice, coconut, asian sides