Getting to grips with rice

Well hello there. Today is 30 January, which makes tomorrow the 31st, which makes tomorrow the last day in January. So far so obvious, but the realisation of that today struck fear into my bones and determination into my mind. Because 31 January is the last day to submit your self-set monthly cooking challenge to Our Growing Edge, and I wanted to do that this month. After all, every challenge makes you a better person. Even if it's a self-set challenge. And even (especially?) if it's about food.

This month's challenge.

This month's challenge.

So on the way home I stopped at Farro, picked up a few bits and bobs, then came home to throw myself bodily into cooking some rice.

Yep, that's my challenge for the month. Throwing together some rice…a different way from how I usually cook it. Usually, I just shake an amount of rice into a saucepan, and then I add an amount of water, and then I cook it, and sometimes all the water absorbs and it's delicious, and sometimes it doesn't so I drain it well and it's still delicious. I mean, I'm far from a rice connoisseur but this seems effective.

But for the last little while, ever since H1 happened to offhandedly say something about coconut rice, I've been thinking about coconut rice. And then the other night my flatmate cooked sticky chicken from her Jamie Oliver cookbook, and glancing over her shoulder I idly thought that it might go nicely with coconut rice.

So tonight I made coconut rice. Because I'm physiologically incapable of following a recipe, I didn't bother even pretending to look at one. Instead, figuring that coconut cream is a liquid and water is also a liquid, I went with my usual method - about a cup of rice* got mixed with a can of coconut cream and half a can of water, I brought it to the boil, then I put it on a simmer and stuck the lid on for a while.

The rice as it came to a boil.

The rice as it came to a boil.

Then it boiled over, and I realised that maybe coconut cream does have some different qualities from water. For the rest of the time, I kept lifting the lid off and stirring it regularly - and by the rest of the time, I mean allllllll the rest of it. I think my totally-guessed ratio might have been off, so it took a bit longer than normal for the rice to cook.

We got there though, and even if my coconut rice was maybe a little more creamy than the norm, it was still good. I mean, it's rice and coconut cream. What's not to love? It's just a tropical risotto, really.

While the rice was cooking (and cooking, and cooking) I got the rest of the meal ready. Again, I chose to ignore that perfectly good Jamie Oliver recipe for sticky chicken in front of me in favour of trying my own method. I mixed sesame oil with Chinese five-spice, dried chilli flakes, a little muscovado sugar and lime juice, then stuck the chicken in there to soak up the flavour while I prepared the vegetables.

The colourful stuff.

The colourful stuff.

Once the rice was nearly done, I heated a bit more sesame oil, threw in the chicken and let it sit until one side was charred and delicious looking, then flipped it until the other side was charred and delicious looking**. If you've got the pan hot enough this doesn't take much time at all. The chicken came out of the pan, the vegetables went in, then once they were very nearly done I threw the chicken back in.

The chicken blackening nicely.

The chicken blackening nicely.

And then, the vegetables.

And then, the vegetables.

And that was it. From the mess I made of the kitchen, you'd think there would be a lot more to it, but nope…that was it.

I spooned the coconut rice into a bowl, added the chicken and vegetables, sprinkled over some coriander and some more lime juice, and served it with a glass of sparkling water. And it was fantastic, if I do say so myself - the chicken and vegetables were really quite spicy (this is a good thing) but the coconut flavour of the rice cooled everything down. I had concerns it'd be too coconutty, but even though I used a whole can of coconut cream and only half a can of water, it tasted just right to me***.

So there you have it. I tried something new, I grew my edge, and then I ate. This is why cooking challenges are so great.

Now let me know your methods for coconut rice - or any rice really - I may not read recipes but I'll happily listen to you guys!

*I prefer brown rice, so I used that even though short-grain white would be a more standard choice.

**It was awesome, but it wasn't particularly sticky…a little sweet chilli sauce probably would have upped the stickiness, but it wasn't needed.

***I do love coconut, though.

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This post is part of Our Growing Edge: A Monthly Blogging Event, hosted this month by Louise from Crumbs and Corkscrews. -