Edesi is to the Efik people, what Iresi is to the Yoruba’s. They both mean rice. Isn’t that interesting how languages can be so familiar? Well, coconut is called Agbon in Yoruba, but Isip in Efik, not even close. hehehehehee. So, you can guess the gist of this introduction, if you didn’t already guess it from the title. Lol. Edesi Isip is coconut rice, but not your average coconut rice, but the Efik version. I promise you, this dish would knock your socks off. You’ve cooked coconut rice multiple times, I even have two recipes on the blog, One a Thai Inspired Coconut rice (recipe HERE) and Coconut Jollof Rice (recipe HERE).
Whilst this dish is epic on its own, because of the flavour of the goat meat, what takes it to super stratospheric levels, is a tip I picked up from one of the best chef’s in Australia, courtesy my new favourite tv guilty pleasure, “My Kitchen Rules”. That show is like going to cooking school from the comfort of your sofa. You learn a lot in just one episode. From cooking techniques like Sous Vide, and Confit, to how to cook meat and seafood, and so much more. I don’t watch anything else on my laptop now but this show. Anyways, one of the signature ingredients for a dish was coconut and the one of the teams made a goat curry. Anyone would immediately tell you that the flavour of goat is waaaaaaay stronger than coconut, so of course, the challenge was to cook something with coconut and the judges complained that they couldn’t taste the coconut instead but the goat, and though the curry was delicious, the team didn’t meet the brief. I sat down there thinking, oh dear, this is so apt. Nigerians cook with coconut a lot, from coconut rice to coconut fried rice to coconut jollof rice, and let me tell you now, 9 out of 10 times, you won’t taste that coconut. You would smell it though, but not taste it as much. The only Nigerian dish where you can taste the coconut is Tapioca, and you know why???? Tapioca itself is a pretty bland cereal, so it takes on the taste of whatever liquid you cook it with. The other coconut and rice dishes on the other hand, because of ALL the myriad ingredients, especially the spices that we add to the rice, decimate the delicate flavour of coconut, leaving it as an after taste, instead of the main player.
So, I sat down there, thinking to myself, as i always do when i watch the show. I imagine what i would have done differently if i was on the show, but for this one, I had no clue. All that changed until one of the chef’s said, when cooking with coconut milk in a savoury dish, start with coconut milk to develop the flavour profile and end with coconut milk to keep the flavour. He then said, if you don’t want to dilute the consistency of your curry, especially when it is perfect and adding coconut milk will make it watery, use coconut cream. It won’t affect the consistency, but will remarkably improve the coconut flavour. I sat up sharply and thought WAIT, WHAT!!!!! Now, why didn’t that occur to me since. Oh wow!!!! You see those fancy chefs, know their onions, because i tried it out with this recipe and I almost screamed. When the rice grains were soft, the intense taste of the coconut, hit my palate so intensely, it was the best coconut and rice dish i have ever cooked. I kept shaking my head thinking, wow, are you kidding me. This is why you should watch MKR. The nifty tips you get from watching the contestants cook, the judges when they critic the teams dishes, and the guest judges too (some of the best chef’s in Australia). I have learnt so much just from watching the show, it is like packing years of experience and years of tutelage into one TV programme. I could have kept this tip to myself to use for the people i cook for, but I thought you know what Dooney, you are not the only one that would have seen that episode, but you are a conduit for disseminating information regarding Nigerian food. So, here you go people, a change is coming to how you cook Coconut Rice. The local flavours in this Efik version is better than the cosmopolitan curry, thyme, etc that we use for other coconut rice dishes. You can take that to the bank!!!!!!!!!!!
So, this coconut rice right here, wowzer!!!! Nigerians, we cook with coconut a lot. From coconut rice, to coconut Jollof rice, to coconut fried rice. We mostly use cosmopolitan spices, but like my native fried rice, I am using local flavours, cooking coconut rice the Efik way. Coconut is a very delicate flavour when used in savoury dishes. Easily over powered by spices, that you can barely taste it. This is a very common thing I have noticed in coconut and rice dishes, even in my own cooking. I get a lot of ideas from watching cooking shows and My Kitchen Rules has been the most helpful so far. I was going to use goat meat with this coconut rice and I knew that the big daddy flavour of the goat will take dominion here, not just that, local smokey flavours of crayfish, smoked prawns, fish and the rest would totally annihilate the flavour of coconut. I was watching an episode of MKR when I started cooking this, then I remembered a tip one of the best chefs in Australia gave to one of the contestants when critiquing their Goat Curry, because he couldn't taste the coconut. Those chefs don't just earn their Michelin stars for nothing. They KNOW their onions. My word, I could hug that man right now. This THE BEST coconut rice dish I have ever cooked. I've had 6 portions already ???????????????? and I planned to start losing some of the holiday weight oooo. Choi!!!!???. Recipe coming tomorrow. I have to go eat more. THANK YOU CHEF!!!!!!!!! Mwah!!!!!!
- Goat Meat
- Chopped onions
- Dry pepper - quantity will be based on your tolerance for heat
- 2 - 3 cans of Coconut milk - depending on how much rice you are cooking with
- 2 - 3 cups of long grain rice - or more
- 1 cooking spoon of crayfish
- 1 small cup of smoked red prawns
- 1 handful of flaked smoked fish
- stock cubes - optional
- chopped spring onions for colour - optional
- chopped chilli also for colour - optional
- Rinse your goat meat, add water to the pot and season with salt, stock cube, chopped onions and a little dry pepper. The stock you get from this is AMAZEBALLS!!!!!! Make sure you boil with enough water.
- When you have the goat thoroughly cooked, rinse the starch out of your rice till the water becomes clear, add this washed rice to the pot containing the stock. Open two cans of coconut milk and add to the rice.
- Place the pot on the heat, add ground crayfish, the smoked prawns, and the smoked fish. Dooney's Kitchen Tip: I cook with well dried out smoked fish, which needs to cook in liquid for a while. If you are cooking with the softer variety of smoked fish, then add it towards the end so it still holds its shape and integrity when you stir.
- With all your ingredients now in the pot, taste the liquid in the pot and season with salt and stock cubes if you wish. The addition of the crayfish will give the rice a little earthy brown colour
- Add chopped spring onions and chilli. This isn't traditional, but i like to add these two ingredients to coconut rice for a pop of colour. Just to make the dish look pretty and not beige. I also use them to garnish
- Allow the rice to cook till it is almost dry. Taste it at this point, the grains should still be a little tough. Now, this is where the Australian Chef's advice comes in. Empty another can of coconut milk into the pot and stir. . Get out a large piece of foil, place over the rice and tuck around the edges sealing it tightly, then cover the pot. This basically locks the steam in the pot, and also locks in the flavour of the coconut. Allow the rice to cook undisturbed, and only open the pot after sufficient time, when you think the rice should have cooked through. For even more intense flavour, let it burn a little. The burnt bits will introduce some smokey flavour as well as caramelisation of the milk. So, so yum.
- I had planned to make a simple coconut curry like sauce to serve with the rice, but by the time i was done cooking, and eating 6 portions of this coconut rice, i decided to add the goat meat to the rice and let it steam with it. It still tasted yum, but now i can't get the idea of goat curry out of my head and i am going to have to make some soon. Lol
Try out that Australian Chef’s tip, and let me know would you. Cheers!!