Photo by Hispanic Kitchen

Arroz con Coco (Coconut Rice)

Cuisine: Panamanian

To talk about Latin food is to talk about rice, one of the favorite grains in the world.

And Arroz con Coco (coconut rice) is a delicious way to prepare it.

Coconut rice is always present in Panamanian food. Although its name suggests a dessert, it is a savory side dish with a subtle flavor of fresh coconut.

Our recipe has the secret to intensifying the coconut flavor and requires a few extra minutes to extract the oil from the coconut cream. Just remember to look for unsweetened coconut milk.


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For the coconut oil:
  1. Pour one can of coconut milk into a medium-sized pan and boil over medium heat. The water will evaporate after about 5 minutes, leaving you with a dense cream. Continue to cook it over medium heat until the oil comes through. Some of the cream solids will begin to brown and caramelize, but that's okay. It'll make the rice pretty.
  2. Once all the cream has turned to oil. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. This will make about ¼ cup of oil.
For the rice:
  1. Add 2 tbsps of vegetable oil to the pan and heat over medium-high temperature. In the meantime, rinse and drain the rice. You want to rinse just as you begin to heat the oil; this prevents the rice from getting goopy after cooking. The easiest way to rinse the rice is to put it in a colander and run it under cool, tap water. Let it drain; you may need to give it a quick shake to get the excess water out.
  2. Once the oil comes to temperature, add the rice and stir it around every couple of minutes. This will help loosen any bits stuck to the bottom after making the coconut oil. Also, there should be enough oil to coat all the grains.
  3. Measure out the other can of coconut milk and add enough water to end up with a total of 5 cups. Pour it over the rice, loosening any grains stuck to the bottom. Stir in the salt, 2-3 tsp, and 1 tsp sugar. Make sure to stir it all very well and quickly; you don't want to stir once it begins to boil.
  4. After the liquid has dried, add the raisins to the top, lower the temperature to low heat and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Allow it to steam for at least 30 minutes before removing the cap. Don't, under any circumstances, remove the lid before that.
  5. You can stir in the raisins at the end of the 30 minutes. It is ready to serve. The coconut flavor will intensify after a day. That's why this recipe is for 3 cups, to make sure you'll have some leftovers! 
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Side Dish