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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Colombian rice dish a treat for coconut lovers

 •  Southern comfort

By Wanda Adams


Find food editor Wanda Adams' "My Island Plate" blog online every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at www.honoluluadvertiser.com/islandlife. She twitters about cooking, dining and other matters @wandaaadams on www.twitter.com.

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A reader named Barbara Hudman sent in an intriguing but incomplete recipe a few weeks ago while I was out of town.

It's for a dish called Colombian coconut rice. This is apparently a very common dish in Colombia; she experienced it while she was in Cartajena visiting with a young woman she has supported through the Children International organization. She asked for the recipe thereafter and the young woman provided her with a rather loose and general explanation — no measurements. I did some research and found a more specific recipe.

I love how people who really know a food to its roots don't need a recipe. They have the look, taste and smell in their memory and they know when it's right. But for the rest of us — we need help!

So here is some help for Barbara Hudman and anyone else who would like to try this dish. There was a lovely little note from her friend contained with the recipe that concluded "God bless you and your family." It is so wonderful when food can connect people.

I tried this the other night and it was delicious with some grilled shrimp. (Grilled chicken and fried fish are also recommended and, also, kidney or black beans cooked in a stew.)

You have choices in making this recipe: squeeze the water from fresh coconut that you have grated, or use canned coconut milk. (I admit I did the latter.)


• Milk of 1 grated coconut OR canned coconut milk combined with water to make 2 1/4 cups

• 1 tablespoon sugar

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 2 cups long-grain rice

• 1 cup raisins

If using fresh coconut, grate, blend or food-process, then squeeze out juice (with your hands or place coconut in a cheesecloth and then wring it out). Place the juice and as much water as needed to make 2 1/4 cups into a medium saucepan. Or use a combination of canned coconut milk and water to make 2 1/4 cups. Bring to a boil. Add the sugar and salt and allow it to carmelize a bit to brown, stirring constantly. Add the rice and raisins and lower heat to medium low. Allow to steam, covered, for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Grated coconut may be added, to taste, if desired, as a garnish.

Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: Made with coconut water: 400 calories, 17 g fat, 15 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 60 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 17 g sugar, 5 g protein. Made with canned coconut milk: 570 calories, 35 g fat, 31 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 300 mg sodium, 65 g carbohydrate, 7 g fiber, 19 g sugar, 7 g protein.

Some recipes suggest you grind the coconut meat and fry it until well-browned and then add it to the liquid and rice. In Colombia, you can buy the coconut already browned, in jars. Some recipes also suggest stirring in a bit of butter at the end.

I wish somebody here would start a business in fresh coconut, grated and chilled. There are so many recipes I enjoy with fresh coconut but it's so difficult to find and process.