"I'm addicted to this rice!"
These are the words of my wife Rebecca upon trying this dish for the first time. And I understand - I've tasted the rice.
Coconut is a polarizing food. For every person who hears the word "coconut" and thinks "Mmmmm", there is another who thinks "Yuck". There's also probably another person like me who thinks, "You put the lime in the coconut and shake it all up. You put the lime in the coconut and drink em both up...", but that's not helpful.
In this dish, plain long grain rice is cooked in coconut milk, absorbing the milk and the flavor. It seems like it should be a dessert dish, but it works well as a side to a tangy or spicy main course. I served it with a vegetarian version of a citrusy spicy Thai tom kha kai soup that I'll publish Monday, and it was well received. One guest even took to lightly dipping his rice in the soup to combine the flavors directly.
I make the coconut milk a little thicker with some shredded coconut and blend the mix together to not only integrate and further shred the dried coconut but to homogenize the coconut milk which separates into a coconut milk and coconut cream component in the can. You can omit the shredded coconut, but do stir or blend your coconut milk together to make it uniformly thick or you may end up with rice with less coconut flavor in the rice itself mixed with a coconut paste. That might be good, but it's not what we're shooting for here.
1 14 oz. can Coconut Milk - (note, do not use creamed coconut or coconut cream for this recipe. You want the thinner milk and not the thicker sweetened coconut cream that is better used for fruity drinks)
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1 big pinch kosher salt
optional - 1/2 cup shredded cocount
water or soy milk as needed
Homogenize your coconut milk in a blender by pouring it in and pureeing for about 15 seconds. If using the shredded coconut, add it before blending and blend for 20 seconds.
Pour the coconut milk into a medium pot over high heat and add 1/4 cup water or soy milk. Add the salt and stir. Bring the mix to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer and cover.
After about 10 minutes, test the rice. If it is still undercooked (and it should be at this stage), replace cover and continue cooking. If the rice is drying out when you check it, add a little soy milk or water and check again in a few minutes. Repeat as needed until the rice is tender. I had a tough time "breaking" my rice and eventually added some soy milk, stirred the pot, and brought it back up to a boil which did the trick in a minute or so.
You can use water to add liquid to the dish, but I found as I added water that the flavor of the coconut in the rice was diluted (duh). Soy milk has a similar flavor profile to coconut milk, and added back some of the flavor lost earlier. Of course you could use more homogenized coconut milk as well. Different rices cook differently, and I'd be leery of waterlogging the rice (or coconutmilk-logging the rice) so start with the amount of coconut milk listed here and add slowly.
If you end up with soupy rice, take the lid off the pot and try to cook off the excess moisture. If you add the liquid a small amount at a time (think a 1/4 cup at most), this shouldn't happen as rice can absorb a heck of a lot of liquid.
Serve on its own or as a side for a spicy dish. What to drink with this dish? It's obvious - "You put the lime in de coconut and shake it all up. You put de lime in de coconut and shake it all up. Doctor! Doctor!"