Coconut rice is undeniably Oriental. If you have always thought it was a Nigerian dish, let me help you correct that assumption now. It is as Thai as Thai comes. Some people make it like Jollof rice, which I don’t necessarily agree with, because the coconut is competing with the flavour of tomatoes and pepper where it eventually loses out, but hey cooking is personal. Some also make it like fried rice which I also skirt around a little but not necessarily fried rice. Yes I add vegetables to mine, but I make sure it is still Thai related. As I mentioned in my Thai Chicken curry HERE, one of the positives of Thai food is the fresh clean flavours. If you truly enjoy Thai cooking, you don’t mess with that at all.
Why did I decide to make Coconut rice? I was hosting my friends from Abuja, and these girls are what you call my personal persons, so I wanted to do something special. This is a great option for entertaining if you want to serve something different. Thai coconut rice is made plainly and served just like that. I wanted to introduce some colour into it, and what better way to do that, than to use red chilli and spring onions. I also wanted to stay with Thai ingredients, so I cooked it with lemon grass and galangal (ginger), boy oh boy the taste combination was awesome. This was my very first time trying this combination. I remember I was taking notes furiously so I didn’t forget anything. This is a truly unique Dooney’s Kitchen recipe and I am very pleased with it. It was one of the best personal feedback I have ever received because my friends hit the table with their fists after tasting it. So, I am sharing this recipe with you guys today, and I hope you experience the same results.
Another new addition to this recipe is the type of rice that I used. When I entertain, I like to go a little extra. It is my way of showing my guests that they are special. Since I was being OCD about creating a Thai dish, what better way to cook Coconut rice than to use the only rice to make a truly oriental dish – Jasmine rice. When you start expanding your cooking repertoire you realise that rice is not ubiquitous in a recipe. There are different types of rice depending on what you are cooking. Basmati is popular in Indian, Middle Eastern and Persian cooking, while another fragrant rice, Jasmine rice is Oriental, common in Southeast Asian cooking. You also have, aborio rice, black rice, the list is loooong. I had never cooked with Jasmine rice before, so I was excited about trying it out. I will regale my panic about cooking this rice below. My other two rice recipes, Jollof Rice (HERE) and Fried rice (HERE) did not include step by step pictures, still I am extremely pleased with the feedback. So, I am redeeming myself today and including step by step pictures. Especially my tip about using a plastic bag. It is what saved me with Jasmine rice. Phew!!!
You will need
750g Jasmine rice – I used the Tilda brand
I know this rice may not be readily available to many, so you can substitute with whatever rice you have at home. If you can find Jasmine rice in a store near you, try it out. You will not be disappointed.
1 stick of lemon grass – lemon grass makes this rice smell absolutely wonderful
3 spring onions – use the green bits
1 red chilli
1 5cm long stump of ginger
1/2 red onion – medium-sized
800g of canned coconut milk
2 cups of homemade Chicken stock
Seasoning cubes – knorr chicken cubes preferred
Olive oil – i cook with olive oil, so use any type of oil you have
Pictures of the Ingredients can be found on the Ingredientspaedia page HERE
1. Make your own chicken stock. Season with salt, curry powder, thyme, seasoning cube and chopped onions. The stock creates part of the flavour profile, so you need a tasty stock. Coconut is the star of the show, so you need a mild stock like chicken stock. Beef stock is simply too strong.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: when boiling chicken, it is common to start with a lot of water, as with meat. Please don’t anymore. You boil chicken with a little water at first, to steam out its flavour from the flesh and bones. This creates a rich stock which you decant then add more water, re-season slightly and leave to boil to properly cook the chicken. Once the chicken is soft, re-introduce the initial stock and let it boil together with the new stock for a few minutes. This produces a truly intense and delicious stock and beautifully flavoured chicken. If you are cooking with really tough chicken, like old layers, just keep decanting the stock once it dries out, add water and repeat the seasoning process. Never add water to a reducing stock, you dilute it and lose important flavour. If you are cooking soft chicken, this is easy, but for tough chicken it may be a little tedious. Nevertheless, the end result is delicious. I always, always, get great responses from my chicken. They are eat the flesh and chew the bone delicious. Lol
2. Chop the chilli, ginger (dice very finely, so it is not chewed), spiring onions and lemon grass. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: lemon grass is a little tough to chop and if it is not chopped finely, it becomes chewy, and you will be picking it out of the rice. Based on a reader’s feedback from my Thai chicken curry, I have decided to make it easier. Chop the lemon grass into four (as you can see in the picture below, beside the chopped spring onions) and take out the pieces after cooking. It will be easy to find and pick out if you chop into four.
3. Make coconut milk – grate the coconut, extract the juice my squeezing the grated coconut through your fingers in another bowl. Add a little warm water to the grated coconut to extract more juice, squeeze through your fingers. Repeat the process until you notice that the juice is becoming much lighter and tastes less of coconut. Sieve the coconut milk to take out any residue. Save the grated coconut for coconut candy. I will be posting my recipe soon. You can skip this process entirely by buying canned coconut milk. Which I did. Lol. My knuckles thanked me for it.
Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: as I mentioned in my Tapioca post HERE. If you open the can, and you are faced with this. Not to worry, the fatty creamy content of the milk has simply congealed. Clear liquid is below. Use the entire can.
4. Heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot and sauté the vegetables including the lemon grass. Coconut milk contains oil, so use the olive oil sparingly.
When the vegetables are soft and translucent, add the coconut milk and let it boil, followed by 2 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. Bring this to a boil and taste. I added one seasoning cube and a little salt at this point. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: i have never cooked with jasmine rice before, and I thought to myself, I think this is too much liquid for the amount of rice I want to cook, so I took out about a quarter.
5. While the coconut milk mixture is boiling, you will begin to see some of its oil separate in the pot. Wash the rice to remove some of the starch and add to the pot. Dooney’s Kitchen Tip: you never pre-boil Jasmine rice. You lose its fragrance that way. The fragrance makes the rice, so you simply rinse the rice till the water is clear. I was testing the waters with the rice, I am about to go into panic mode. Keep reading. Lol
6. Cover the pot and let it boil for roughly 10 – 15 minutes on high heat. Now, coconut milk is notorious with starchy ingredients like rice. The cream thickens and makes the grains clump together, hence this rice will burn a little. Not to worry, stir a bit. With time, I realised that the water content was not enough, as the rice was still tough, so I re-introduced the stock I took out in step 4. I did this in portions and used it all.
7. As with my other rice recipes. When the rice had absorbed the liquid, but was still tough, rather than add more water, I brought out the old trusty plastic bag, placed it over the rice, sealed the edges, covered the pot and lowered the heat. You can also do this with foil paper.
Here comes panic mode. For the very first time, this method was not working as it should. The rice was softening all right, but the grains were sticking together. Mind you, it was not soggy, but unlike Jollof rice, the grains were not separate. I kept wondering what I was doing wrong. Panic does something funny to your head. It throws all your experience out of the window, and you make rookie mistakes. I made the rookie panic mistake, of stirring and stirring. DON’T.
With no one to ask or call, not even my mum which I sometimes do when I run into cooking problems. I could imagine her saying “Jasmine kini, ewo tun niyen o – catering practical”. Lol. Google to the rescue. I had read about Jasmine rice days before, and I had completely forgotten that it was sticky rice. I remember hitting my forehead. OF COURSE. It is behaving exactly as it should be. All the pictures of cooked Jasmine rice looked exactly like mine. Hey, it is eaten with chopsticks in Southeast Asia. You can’t pick up individual grains with chop sticks, can you? Duh, Oladunni!!!
So, don’t worry you are not doing anything wrong, as long as it is not dripping, as you can see from the picture above. Your coconut rice will taste delicious. I think the stickiness even helps because it concentrates the coconut milk.
After plating, I got the idea to use the 2 sticks of lemon grass as chopsticks. It made the plate look pretty and oriental. Lol
On the back of my success with a new type of rice. I am going to try out different kinds of rice. Thanks to Tilda, I have an entire range to try out. Wild (black) rice, wild rice, brown rice, paella rice, Aborio rice for a risotto. Look out for new and exciting ways to cook with rice.