Coconut-habanero rice is a spicy, delicious side dish with a complex flavor profile that pairs well with any dish involving Jamaican jerk sauce. But I’ve also been known to eat it for breakfast because it’s so yummy.
Coconut-habanero rice: almost traditional
Coconut-habanero rice is based on a classic Jamaican recipe for rice and peas: it’s traditionally made with pigeon peas, although I’ve substituted kidney beans when I made the dish before. Unfortunately, my family, sigh, doesn’t care for beans of any kind in their rice. This is a problem we’re working on. But for now, this is my compromise recipe.
I make coconut-habanero rice as a side dish to accompany my Jerk Chicken, which is also quite hot. For this reason, my typical Jamaican meal also includes a salad of cool tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions in a simple vinaigrette.
My coconut-habanero rice is creamy and spicy: the level of spice depends on how many habañero peppers you decide to put in. Phil and I like it with at least 2, but that’s sufficient to blow off the top of our less-heat-tolerant childrens’ heads. So, we now use one pepper and douse our rice with my fiery jerk sauce (recipe here). If you are heat-averse: first off, you probably won’t be making my Jerk Chicken. That’s cool, I understand. But you likely will still like this rice if you leave the peppers out altogether. You can easily adapt it by adding curry powder, if you’d like (I’d start with about 1/2 tbsp.).
I start by sautéeing some minced shallots in a little bit of oil. When they’re translucent, I add in the minced habañeros, dried thyme, and the rice: sautéeing the rice before adding the liquid allows the rice not only to take on some of the flavors of the fat and aromatics, but also to develop a nice, toasty flavor. When the rice becomes fragrant, I add in the liquid.
Unlike typical rice recipes, coconut-habanero rice involves simmering the rice uncovered for quite some time, until holes in appear and the liquid level goes just below the surface. Then I lid it, turn the heat to low, and let it go for 10 minutes. After that, I turn the heat off and let the rice sit, covered, for 10 more minutes.
A spicy, creamy rice side dish that pairs wonderfully with Jerk Chicken.
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1-2 habañeros, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 tsp dried thyme leaves
- 1 cup canned coconut milk, well shaken
- 1 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a 2-quart saucepan (preferably with a glass lid so you can see how the rice is doing!) over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the habañeros, rice, and thyme leaves. Sauté until the rice is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the liquid: after mixing into the rice, do not stir the rice again. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the liquid level is slightly below the top of the rice and holes appear. Cover and turn the heat to low, checking periodically (through the glass lid!) to be sure that there's plenty of steam..
After 10 minutes, very briefly raise the heat to medium-high to amp up the steam (no more than 15 seconds). Remove the rice from the heat but do not uncover. Allow rice to sit undisturbed for 10 additional minutes.
Fluff with a fork and serve.
Coconut-habanero rice pairs well with:
|Jerk Chicken made with my Angry Jerk Sauce|