coconut brown rice

coconut brown rice

Shauna,” you may be thinking. “Have you lost your mind? That’s a bowl of rice. Is that all you have to give us now?”

Actually, yes.

It’s not that I have run out of ideas. New ideas always seam to leak at the seams around here, and sometimes at the most inappropriate times. For example, this week when we are busy planning an upcoming trip to Colorado for the book, doing signings at Costco, trying to finish a website for the book that should have been completed a month ago (and not for lack of trying), putting together a quite-exciting blog event for November, answering 180 emails a day and feeling like a jerk for leaving the rest unanswered, gathering all our receipts for reimbursement and trying to remember to invoice magazines for payment, plus trying to re-arrange all the furniture in the house to make it feel more like ours? This week? Of course this is the week that we admitted to ourselves that we would really like to buy a house instead of renting much longer. And thus spent some mornings walking around empty houses with Lu bouncing up the stairs.

We’re nuts.

At least we’re still laughing and dancing with Lu in the living room as much as we possibly can. She always restores us.

So does cooking.

Even when life feels as foreboding as the low clouds hovering over the house right now, standing in front of the stove slows me down. Lu and I made cookies together the other night. At the end, there were raisins strewn on the floor in a wide circle around the chair upon which she had been standing, some of them smooshed by her excited stomping in her new red shoes. She had taken every measuring cup out of the drawer, banged most of them on the counter in rhythm with the Sesame Street songs that played from the computer, and sprinkled potato starch on any remaining space. I should have been annoyed. But we were baking. And for the first time, she actually folded nuts into the cookie dough, using the spatula with deft hands. “I mashed cookies!” she shouted, delighted.

I cleaned up the raisins after she went to bed, then sat down to eat a warm cookie, thinking of all the years we might be cooking together in the kitchen.

Danny’s really the one who taught me to cook. I knew how to make a meal before I met him, but I sweated it. I wanted everything right. I knew how to bake before I had to cut out gluten but I didn’t really understand the chemistry and magic of baking the way I do now. I didn’t feel entirely comfortable in the kitchen until I stood next to Danny, watching, then joining in.

That’s really what our cookbook is about: how I learned to become comfortable in the kitchen from loving Danny. And really, how you can too, if you want.

Before I met Danny, I would never have thrown together this coconut rice. And without doing that, I would have missed out on this sustenance. We have eaten eggs fried crisp in coconut oil on top of this rice. I sauteed collard greens with various citrus juices and slivered almonds and ate it on top of this rice. Lu spooned up this warm rice with avocado and roasted chicken and said “Yummmmm….” (She has picked up yum and delicious lately.) It’s brown rice without the hippie trappings. This rice sits soft in the bowl, steam rising, a faint smell of coconut and curry arriving after the steam. It doesn’t smell like tanning lotion or pina coladas or bad bubblegum. It entices without needing your attention.

You want this rice.

After soaking the brown rice, and throwing in pinches of curry powder and ginger, pepper and lime, on a whim, I turned on the rice cooker and walked away. Lu and I read about 18 books, including this Lois Lenski book, which she asks for 14 times a day so she can recite the text by herself. I cuddled her while the rice bubbled and steamed on the counter.

(By the way, we make every grain we eat in the rice cooker. We throw in quinoa when we first wake up and have a soft pile of it with poached eggs for breakfast. Or teff porridge with molasses and dried cherries. Or oats with prunes and maple syrup. We have at least one big bowl of whole grains as one of our meals every day. And we don’t have to think about how to cook them. Just throw them into the rice cooker.)

You see, as much as I love the long, entailed kitchen projects on slow Sunday afternoons, we have far less time to cook elaborate meals these days. We eat quite differently now than we did in the days I wrote about in the cookbook. Somehow, I have thought that the simple meals we eat aren’t interesting enough to show you here.

However, in the midst of a chaotic time, sometimes a simple bowl of coconut brown rice is enough to make me slow down and enjoy these moments more.

What would you throw on top of this coconut brown rice? I’d love to know.

coconut brown rice II


My brother and I used to tease my father that he had a lifetime subscription to Somewhere Magazine. Whenever we asked him where he had read a statistic that proved his point, or a story that seemed too far-fetched to be true, he always said, “Oh, somewhere.”

Karma’s coming back. I cannot for the life of me remember where I read the tip recently that soaking brown rice for at least an hour makes it far more fluffy and less “good-for-you” tasting. Somewhere. Still, you should do this too. Somewhere Magazine was right.

The directions here are for a rice cooker. That’s how we cook our rice now. I haven’t made a pot of rice on the stove in at least 3 years. If you would like to make this on the stove, then use whatever method you traditionally use.

Or buy a rice cooker.

2 cups brown basmati rice
1/2 can (7 ounces) coconut milk
juice of 1 medium-sized lime
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon Madras curry powder
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Soaking the rice. Soak the rice in 4 cups of cool, fresh water. Let it sit for at least 1 hour, preferably longer, if you can. This helps to remove some of the starchiness from the rice. Pour the rice into a large strainer, draining out all the water.

Cooking the rice. Pour the rice into the rice cooker. Add the coconut milk, lime juice, coconut oil, curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper. Stir it all well. Add 3 1/2 cups cool, fresh water. Stir it all up. Close the lid. Turn the rice cooker to the brown rice setting, then turn it on.

When the rice cooker says it is done cooking, you may eat.

65 comments on “coconut brown rice

  1. Allison Day

    I grew up eating only Japanese short-grain rice, and on special occasions long-grain rice or pilaf. But since meeting Son, the world of rice has opened up so much to me – Jasmine rice, broken rice, sweet rice, rice cooked with chicken stock and fried shallots, rice porridge…

    Your recipe is one I haven't tried yet. (We've never made brown rice, and certainly never thought to make it with coconut milk.) It looks delicious – I'm going to make it, soon. And knowing us, I bet we'll love it (if Son even lets me have any 😉 ), and will end up making it again and again.

    Thank you for posting this recipe, even if it *is* a simple one. 🙂

  2. Delicious And Healthy Living

    I do a similar recipe for private chef clients here in Los Angeles. I would add mango, snow peas, red peppers and Thai marinated chicken to this bowl of lovliness. I love that you added spices to this rice.

    Most of all, I love reading everything you write. You are a master at making me feel as though I am in the kitchen with you. I have been watching you for years, Shauna. You have really come into your own – in every way. Keep on growing, loving and sharing with us! It's inspiring.

  3. jennifer

    can you let me know what type of rice cooker you use, and love? I am in the market for one. We like to make persian style rice (with a crisp crust) – have you tried that? If not, you should. Its amazing!

  4. Kristin Overton

    I'm in the midst of finishing up making butter chicken to have with my coconut brown rice tonight, it's almost done!

    I have yet to write the first post for my blog that I set up yesterday (premise: gluten free of course) But I can only hope to be as inspiring as yourself one of these days:)

  5. Christine

    Yes. I love a simple base from which to build a good meal. Not to mention, I also absolutely love coconut, lime and brown rice. Thanks, I can't wait to try it out!

  6. Wanna-Be Columnist

    WOW! Thank you so much for posting this. I purchased a used rice cooker from a friend last year (more to give her some extra pocket money without it seeming like a handout) and I have fallen in love with it! I have also done steel-cut oats and quinoa in the cooker and I love it.

    I have never thought of soaking the rice nor of putting coconut milk in it. All I have is long grain white rice and jasmine rice in the house right now but I think I might try this recipe this weekend.

  7. Jeanette

    This sounds so fragrant. I might top it with some Thai curry or Jamaican curry, both of which use coconut milk. I'm adding this to my brown rice repertoire. Thanks for sharing this.

  8. Merideth

    Oh, how well I understand not having the time to cook elaborate meals these days! Simple can be just as beautiful as fancy… I am in love with my slow-cooker and my rice cooker right now- carnitas in the crock-pot pretty much rock, and I think you covered how amazing rice cookers are. And coconut rice- oh my goodness. That sounds delicious, since I also adore pretty much anything coconut. Thanks!

    And I'm still thoroughly enjoying your cook book, and longing for the day when I actually have time to cook from it…

  9. Meg

    This looks fantastic – I'd probably soak it for 8-10 hours in water and a little bit of acid (perhaps lime juice in this case) to help break down the phytic acid and make it more digestible. After that I'd probably eat it with some greens, leeks, red pepper, and a fried egg. Will try this very soon, thanks!

  10. tracy

    This would be the perfect base for our one-dish-wonder. We would saute sausage, onions, garlic and whatever green we have in the house… add a splash of white wine or a vinegar…. splash of stock and let it simmer down. Add to the top of this lovely rice. Basic, easy, but extra good evening meal. In the morning, we'd heat up whatever leftovers we had, fry an egg, top it — then let the lovely yolk ooze into the goodness. thanks Shauna…. now i'm hungry again. 🙂

  11. britta

    What brand/kind of rice cooker would you recommend?? I am kind of new to this whole gluten free thing…and am starting to really dig into this! I read your book…well almost all of it, I think I still have a chapter left! School started so all my fun reading went down the drain!

  12. Mrs. Q

    I also want to know what kind of rice cooker you use. We have a terrible one that, well, doesn't cook rice perfectly, which sort of nullifies its existence. What do you have and where can we get one? Thanks!

  13. Jennifer Jo

    So glad you explained about Somewhere Magazine. Now I know what my husband's been reading.

    And you make me want to buy a rice maker.

    And make coconut rice.

  14. sonya

    Funny, I had brown rice this very evening – I topped it with mixed greens (broccoli rabe and kale) sauteed with lots of garlic and red pepper flakes and chicken sausage. I have some lovely brown jasmine rice grown organically by Cajun Grain in Louisiana (Christine Muhlke wrote about their farm in the NY Times Magazine last year).

    This coconut rice sounds yum, I will try it soon!

  15. MoniCue

    How timely! I made brown rice with coconut milk in the rice cooker two nights ago! (I have a 10-yr-old, very basic rice cooker–don't think it could handle all the additions you use. Do you have one of those fuzzy logic cookers?) Served it with black beans cooked with cumin, corn and tomato, topped with a cilantro lime honey sauce. An improvised hit!

  16. Best Wishes, Marie

    do not be afraid to ask your landlord if they might like to sell. with these bazaar economic time, you might be surprised.

  17. GF Gidget

    I would either top this rice with Agave Baked Lentils and steamed spinach or a massaged spicy kale salad with crunchy sprouts, cherry tomatoes, and avocado!
    By the way, your writing is exquisite.

  18. Best Wishes, Marie

    on top of the brown rice …. i would giant coconut tiger shrimps and some steamed brocoli and carrots, and a wasabi dipping sauce on the side.

  19. I Am Gluten Free

    I love my rice cooker. I started out with an inexpensive one and when that kicked the bucket, I bought a more expensive one that has been in use almost constantly since I bought it. It is a workhorse and I use it just about every day. In terms of what I'd put over your yummy rice recipe – how about Thai Vegetable Curry with tofu and lots of veggies and Thai Kitchen's Red Curry Paste? I would make it and then I'd eat it and swoon.

  20. Dorothy Lowe

    Please give more recipes like this. I am always on the hunt for more quick, tasty, healthy, gf dinners to make.

  21. Iris

    I'd go with some sauteed veggies and a fried egg. Although, after reading shutterbean's answer, I might have to switch to what she's having.

  22. Shuku

    Traditionally if done Malaysian-style, I'd have put fried little anchovies, some sambal, a few slices of cucumber and some hard boiled egg on top of this. But that would be overkill for something this fragrant since this rice has the additional curry and so on.

    Oddly enough? I may just top this with a simple stir-fry of thin-sliced lotus roots and burdock matchsticks. To me, it needs something simple just to set off all those lovely tastes and flavours. And I may also add several strips of kaffir lime leaves to the rice while cooking, just so there is additional fragrance.

  23. Jennifer

    You've made excited to prepare rice! I must admit we're total white ricers here because try as I might, I hate the taste of brown rice. I can't wait to try your tip.

    I'm a rice cooker devotee too. With all the juggling in the kitchen, there's never a worry of overcooked or boiling over—it's like a mini line chef, whose sole purpose is to make perfect grains every single time.

    And a runny, sunny side up egg would be just perfect on top of this.

  24. MJ

    I LOVE brown rice. My kids are slowing coming around, but I think the coconut will seal the deal!
    We usually eat our rice with pan-fried salmon. I bet this will be a wonderful combo.
    One of our favorite soups in coconut-lemongrass soup from the thai restaurants, so I am wondering if lemongrass can be added in the mix.
    Thanks for the inspirations!

  25. Soup and Song

    I think sometimes the simplest dishes end up being the most inspired! I've made a similar version of this dish using basmati rice, coconut milk, diced jalapeno, turmeric, ginger, onion & garlic. Looking forward to trying your recipe! Thank you for sharing, and especially for the tip about soaking the brown rice!

  26. Kelly and Kelly

    I'd like info on your rice cooker too. I've been looking for one for awhile but can't figure out what to get.

  27. plantbasefoods

    My husband loves to cook and does 99% of it but after reading this recipe and all the posts I told my husband, "I'll make dinner tonight" The look on his face was priceless or was that fear??

  28. molly

    Oh, Shauna.

    I love it here, always. Gluten-free is not a requirement in our home (though it happens often, just because). But I come back here for the stories, for the firm grip on life, for the nitty-gritty, from-the-trenches, right-here right-now truth of it all. For coconut brown rice. And the rich grand reality dished up alongside.

    The rice sounds fine. By which I mean FINE. But the words are the ringers.

    Good luck in your house hunting. Whatever is meant, will come your way, I feel certain.

    I never thought to cook quinoa in our rice cooker. Silly me. I will now.

    The red shoes are the bomb (like mama's wedding boots, eh?). And enjoy that sweet girl. She is one in a million.


  29. Laura

    I really appreciate a simple recipe done up with a different flavor. I would serve this with fried plaintains and steamed kale or some other green. On the Caribbean coast of Colombia, they make coconut rice but they grate the coconut first, and they don't use coconut milk. The taste is so subtle, and not sweet, but divine. Just smelling it is almost as good as eating it.

  30. arctictales09

    What a wonderful Idea. Can't wait to made it this weekend.
    The best things are always the simple ones.

    Thank you for sharing…

  31. AngAK

    teriyaki salmon.

    my rice cooker doesn't have a brown rice setting. I think I would turn it back to the cook setting after it clicked off to warm and cook for about 15 more minutes then flip back to warm??

  32. jenilowrance

    That sounds divine. I'd probably just eat it plain, with a little butter, just because I like rice that way.

    Good luck with your house hunt, and enjoy these busy days.

  33. WizzyTheStick

    Oh lovely. Here in the Caribbean we put coconut cream in our rice all the time, and in soups and stews and desserts and drinks and … oh right very irrelevant sorry.

    As to your question, it's not so much what I would throw on but what I would throw in:-) My version omits the curry and throws in some jerk spice seasonigs and pigeon peas and raisins.

  34. bleu

    Just wondering, what rice cooker do you all like best. I am looking to get a new one.

    Cannot wait to eat this rice with some avocado as well.

  35. Katie

    Onions, snow peas, and anything else I might have in the house at the time – carrots or broccoli seeming likely. Then chopped peanuts and some of the peanut sauce in the fridge.

    I love using a rice cooker to cook grains and even beans – I tend to forget that I have things on the stove, so I like to know that I'm using something that will turn itself off rather than burn the house down or destroy my pans.

  36. The InTolerant Chef

    I love my rice cooker! How refreshing to find a nice simple tasty recipe that you can set and forget! Yumm…

  37. Mother Rimmy

    Sounds like you have a very full, but fun life! I'm a big fan of brown rice. I could make it my entire meal. 🙂

  38. Dana

    Hmmm. Well I had always heard that it was best to cook brown rice like pasta so it doesn't get all clumpy so I sent my rice cooker to the basement. But I am up for a re-try. I could eat this everyday topped with marinated tofu, bits of nori, and avocado.

  39. Christina

    We love Lois Lenski too! Thanks for sharing the common everyday meals too. I love cooking new and exciting recipes. But it's nice to know I'm not the only one that relies on simple healthy meals to get through the busy times. You got me to buy a scale. I think I may get a rice maker next!

  40. Jenn Sutherland

    Thanks for the tip on soaking the brown rice! And I LOVE that you simply stated "or make it on the stovetop however you traditionally make it." I was converted to the world of rice cookers by your post from a couple years ago, and bought the same cooker…and when I'm writing recipes I always scratch my head and have to go look up how to cook grains without a rice cooker, because I don't know anymore, either!

    We made millet pilaf in ours last night, and I think this brown rice is on the menu this evening! Thank you!

  41. Anonymous

    First off: Signings at Costco! You go, girl. But…I was so excited to hear your interview on KUOW, and that Washington Costcos are picking up the book!!!!! 🙁 Not the one in Bellingham. Rats.

    Now, on to the rice. We eat this with just coconut milk and salt, but I would top that with tofu cubes deep fried, then sauteed with the madras curry that would have gone in the rice, and onions and cashews.

  42. Marathon Bound

    I have made this a few times now already! Sometimes playing with the various ingredients a little based on my cravings or what will be going with it. (I am a coconut fanatic, so sometimes I put more coconut milk in there). I make rice on the stove top, so I think it changes the final result a little.

    I love lemon-and-spiced chicken (recipe from The Newlyweds Cookbook at Crate&Barrel) with it.

    Also, I think I am going to make this again this week to go as a side with coconut chicken soup, and I may put some sauteed mushrooms on top, too. YUM!

  43. Ines

    Have you heard of the Colombian version of coconut rice? It is not as well known as the Asian-inspired coconut rice here in the US… it is just a good but very different. The coconut rice is usually served seafood and fried green plantains. The rice is both sweet and savory. The main difference is in the cooking method. The Colombian version involves cooking the coconut milk until it separates and the coconut solids caramelize. This gives the coconut a much more complex flavor. A dash of sugar and handful of raisins give it a touch of sweetness, but the rice is definitely savory. I found a recipe in English in case you are curious:

  44. sue

    I'm intrigued at by the prospect of using a rice cooker. Any suggestions/recommendations for purchasing one? Thanks.

  45. Esther

    Tried this at the weekend, though on the hob as we don't have a rice cooker and it was fantastic. We will definitely be having it again though possibly with slightly less lime as himself isn't ken on citrus.. me I'd keep it all in there !

    We had it with oven cooked brill, peas and sautéed Brussels sprouts cooked with garlic which was in chilli oil. Really good !

  46. Helena

    Hey, thanks for this recipe! I love coconut flavours and this rice will go well with a nice Thai red curry I have in mind. I just have one question…have you ever tried making this rice in a normal saucepan instead of a rice cooker? I would be interested as I’ve never used a rice cooker (I know, how quaint!!) and would be interested in whether the timing is similar to your rice cooker or indeed if you have ever timed it. Thanks 🙂

  47. dain

    i’ve been waiting to make this FOREVER and finally did today on the stove top (don’t have a rice cooker) and it was a total fail. sooooooo sad. will try again if i ever get a rice cooker. 🙁

    1. shauna

      What happened to it? You should certainly be able to make it on the stove. Let’s fix it.

  48. Danielle

    Hi there! This sounds great and I can’t wait to try it. I am a very new cook to the scene and have a basic question for you. If you are cooking the rice in a rice cooker why would you need to soak it beforehand? I’ve heard of soaking beans before putting them in a crock pot but never rice. I’ve never soaked my rice before, is that bad? Could you elaborate on the starchy problem? Thanks!

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