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Arroz con Coco

Arroz con coco rates high on the long list of things I should have tried sooner.  A staple of Caribbean cooking, especially along the coast of Colombia, it’s essentially white rice cooked with coconut milk then served with fried fish, plantains, avocado.  Deceptively simple, I used equal parts canned light coconut milk and water for the first attempt, combining all the ingredients and bringing them to a fast boil.  The result was great if I was going for rice pudding but otherwise too sticky and un-fluffable.  Trying to get the proportions and the timing right, I used a second can and sautéed the rice with a little bit of oil before adding the liquid.  It may have worked but I let it go too long and the amount of rice was way off, so it burned before it cooked.

For my third and final try, I was out of cans but in the specialty shop geography of gentrified Brooklyn, organic dried coconuts were more accessible than canned coconut milk.  I had also come across heated debates about the superiority of freshly expressed coconut milk.  Deciding it was worth a little extra work, I got out the hammer to chop and grate coconuts for a few cups of milk. Taking no chances this time, I brought the fresh coconut milk and water to a simmer then added the rice and left it at the lowest possible setting, checking it often.  After a 15 minutes the tell tale holes appeared on the surface.  Subtle and deep, the coconut flavor infused the rice without weighing it down.

Needing some fish to justify the side, I considered a pan-Asian curry–almond blend but my friend Catalina pared it down for me instead – trucha frita and patacones.  I didn’t want the trout battered and deep fried so I followed another friend’s suggestion to just drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper then add it to a hot pan until it was crisp on both side and just cooked through, saving the frying for the patacones  (aka tosotones).  A sun and seawater meal just when I needed a few extra minutes of light at the end of the day.

Arroz con Coco/Coconut Rice
It can also be made with just with coconut milk or titoté, coconut milk that’s been boiled down and caramelized, toasted coconut and raisins are optional.

1 1/2 cups fresh or canned coconut milk
1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups long-grain white rice

1/2 cup toasted shredded coconut (optional)
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

Bring coconut milk, water, sugar and salt to a boil.  Immediately add rice and return to a high simmer.  Partially cover and lower heat to medium low until water is absorbed and rice is tender, 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand covered, about 5 minutes.*  Fluff with  a fork.

Serve with fried fish and patacones.

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Note:  If using, add the raisins to the rice here.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. megan #

    sounds delish. i wonder if you could use a bottle of that coconut water that’s so good for hangovers to similar effect – what do you think?

    19 November 2010
  2. Catalina Llano #

    I want this now!!! Looks delicious!

    19 November 2010
  3. Looks good, my grandmother makes a special “congri” she makes with light coconut milk. You can check it out 🙂

    20 November 2010
  4. Kat #

    Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! I’m salivating.

    21 November 2010
  5. This seems like it was worth the effort. The entire meal, especially the rice, looks amazing.

    21 November 2010
  6. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! I’m salivating.

    22 December 2010
  7. I want this now!!! Looks delicious!

    23 December 2010
  8. sounds delish. i wonder if you could use a bottle of that coconut water that’s so good for hangovers to similar effect – what do you think?

    24 December 2010

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