Arroz con coco – Sweet coconut rice Colombian style.
Nowadays you won’t find me eating copious amount of rice which is quite strange being of Caribbean heritage. In the Caribbean rice is a absolute dietary staple, in fact what rice is to the Caribbean is what pasta is to the Italians. When you’re exploring various recipes and constantly amending your diet like I do there’s little time to eat the same food on rotation.
Being a foodie entails sampling different cuisines/recipes, any blogger/foodie/culinary enthusiast would agree with my assertion. How would you create lots of different recipes and feature them on your website if you didn’t do some tweaking along with some trial and error? Exactly! I rest my case.
One of my favourite ways to enjoy sampling is to tantalise my taste buds by going fine dining. I don’t do it habitually, usually if I’m going to lunch or dinner with companion, I’ll suggest an exclusive restaurant so that we can sit down and chat and hopefully enjoy the food too.
This worked in my favour with my most recent fine dining adventure to a Colombian restaurant. Having been to Latin America a few times before I already knew the cuisines were very similar to Island food so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I ended up having some grilled fish which was beautifully seasoned and coconut rice. I’m sure you can see where my inspiration came from for this recipe, right?
Arroz con coco essentially translates to a sweet coconut rice, a dish that derives from Colombia. For a second you may be forgiven to think the pictures deeply resemble rice and peas (peas and rice) due to the dark hue. Well the colour comes from caramelizing the coconut solids and the use of brown sugar, in my case I used coconut sugar which is diabetic friendly with a low glycemic index number (35).
I also used brown rice which is quite nutty and a million healthier than white rice which has been chemically treated. The key to softening brown rice is to soak it overnight or for several hours, this cuts down on the cooking time as the grains are softer to work with.
You will need a can of coconut milk for the arroz con coco using only the solids, so make sure to scoop them off. The solids will serve has the foundation for the recipe. They need to be broken down/caramelized which takes a bit of time and your patience. In order to achieve this, once the solids are in the pan stir the mixture, it should take almost 10 minutes to evaporate. Then you will be left with a very small amount of coconut almost like shreds and some oil, I personally skimmed off the oil as it can make the rice too oily, so do be mindful of that.
Once the solids have caramelized, simply add the remaining ingredients. I added a cinnamon stick to the rice which adds a lovely warming note. The rice should take 45 minutes to cook, though check the liquids levels periodically to ensure the rice doesn’t burn.
This recipe is freezer friendly, any leftovers can be stored in the freezer and eaten at any given time.
- 1 cup of brown rice (soaked, see post for details)
- 1 can of coconut milk (scoop out the solids, discard the clear liquid) + 2 cups of coconut milk
- 1 tbsp of coconut sugar
- ½ cup of sultanas
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ tsp of himalayan pink salt
- Heat the coconut solids in a heavy base saucepan or dutch pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and stir the coconut solids until they separate from the oil. This should take roughly 10 minutes, the solids should be a beige colour, don't worry if it's not too dark.
- Skim off the excess oil in the pan and discard.
- Add the rice to the pan and coat with the coconut followed by the pink salt, coconut sugar, sultanas and cinnamon stick then stir.
- Pour in the coconut milk and stir again.
- Bring the milk to a boil, then reduce to simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes. During the given time check the liquid levels, if the rice isn't cooked through and the liquid has evaporated add ¼ cup at a time of more coconut milk.
- Once cooked, leave to stand, covered for 5 minutes before serving.
- Fluff rice and serve.