Puamana coconut rice
Highlighting the cornerstone flavors of Thai cooking
Thai-inspired, my coconut rice is bursting with traditional Thai sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors. It is a great accompaniment to fish, particularly my bamboo basket-steamed fish with lime sauce and vegetables. I would not count this dish as my healthiest dish as it uses white rice and sweetened coconut, but it is a tasty indulgence you can justify when you pair it with fish. You can substitute healthier unsweetened coconut for the sweetened coconut, but it doesn't produce quite the flavor contrast and balance to the lime, ginger, green onion and cilantro that makes this dish.
Do not use a rice cooker to make this rice. I've tried -- it all turns to mush. The rice must be made on the stove top. Rinse your rice until it runs clear. There is a lot of chopping involved, so if you have a food processor use it! If you don't have a food processor handy, enlist your family and friends. Give everyone a vegetable or fruit to chop and you'll be done in no time. Don't be afraid of the salt quantity. It is needed to counterbalance the coconut milk. For a great way to peel ginger, check out my Einstein tip for peeling ginger root. My favorite tools for zesting citrus are microplanes and citrus presses for juicing citrus.
Maui no ka 'oi
Puamana is a neighborhood in West Maui that is walking distance to old Lahaina. I named this dish for Carrie, my book club friend who generously hosts a week-long book club meeting at her home in Puamana every year. It is a great time to relax and do a lot of cooking, hiking, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding. And we read a little bit too! We always make this rice dish along with a whole-fish opakapaka. And a mai tai or two. Yum!
Puamana coconut rice
Yield 8 servings
Sweet, sour, bitter and salty, this Thai-influenced rice dish is a delectable accompaniment to fish.
- 2 14-ounce cans of coconut milk (don't use the lite stuff)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained
- 1 /2 t sea salt
- 1 head garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 3" stick of ginger, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 2 t canola oil
- 3 stalks green onion, sliced and minced
- 1/2 bunch of cilantro, washed. No need to remove all the stems.
- 2-3 limes, zest and juice
- 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut (or unsweetened if you are feeling virtuous)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped pineapple or mango, or both
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put coconut milk, water, rice and salt in a covered pan. Bring just to a boil and reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Watch carefully as the coconut milk boils over easily. After 15 minutes, the rice may still appear to be soupy. Give it a stir and it will absorb a lot of the moisture that is in the top of the pan. Put the cover back on and allow to rest off the heat while you finish chopping and toasting the rest of the goodies.
- Spread your coconut evenly in the bottom of a baking dish. Toast for a few minutes, stirring every minute and watching carefully so it does not burn. Be warned it can burn fast. When you open the oven your eyes will be blasted with acrid heat. I don't know why toasting coconut does this, but you will see what I mean. I recommend not getting your face too close when you first open the oven.
- Next, get to chopping your ginger and garlic. Hopefully you are using a food processor. A food processor quickly take the ginger and garlic down to a fine mince. Just remember to pulse. If you are cutting by hand, chop, do not grate the ginger. Grating just turns the ginger into a stringy mess.
- Saute the ginger and garlic in canola oil for 5 minutes until cooked. Stirring frequently taking care not to burn.
- Chop the cilantro and green onion. You can pulse the cilantro a couple times in the food processor if you wish, but I hand chop the green onion because I like the way the green onion rings look when they are hand-chopped.
- In a large bowl combine rice, garlic and ginger sauté, lime juice, lime zest, green onion, cilantro, toasted coconut and pineapple or mango.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH