Coconut Rice Recipe

Coconut Rice

Lets just say a well-respected local newspaper contacts you and says, “Hey, we’d like include you in a food story we’re doing. You’ll be creating a meal and we’ll be shadowing you while you shop and cook. You’ll be one of five chefs we’ll be profiling. Can you create a dish write a recipe and be ready tomorrow?”

Wow. Me?! Sure!

No problem at all. I’ll just create something simple like Seared Sea Scallops with Mango Melon Salsa and Coconut Rice. Its not fancy, its not complicated. Just let the fresh, in-season ingredients shine through. An easy recipe that anyone at home can create. Nooooo problem. Ha! I can cook this dish in 30 minutes. Piece of cake.

Except for one thing. I’ve been spoiled by my rice cooker. I don’t know how to make jasmine rice without it. The water measurements, timing and technique are totally different. I mean…I’ve never ventured outside of the ‘one-finger-push-button’ technique of the rice cooker.

I know. I’m spoiled, sheltered and stupid.

I undercooked my rice in front of the mighty food critic, Brian Ries. I watched him chew chew chew gulp cough. He was brave and polite – but I think I saw him pop a couple of Tums behind my back. He also scribbled notes on his little notepad. It probably read, “lets not call her again.”

How could I, a Chinese cook, mess up RICE of all things?!?! Thats totally sacreligious and I might as well be disowned by my “peeps.” “Ahhhh….Jaden-grasshoppa….Confucious, Buddha and Jackie Chan all very much upset. We meditate and pray for your awakening.”

Thank goodness that the scallops were perfectly cooked and the salsa was refreshing. I’ll post the photos next week when the paper publishes the article. Of course I had to go home immediately and make the rice properly in a pot just to prove myself a worthy citizen of the Chinese race.


Perfectly Cooked Coconut Jasmine Rice without a Rice Cooker

Servings: 4-6 as side dish Prep Time: Cook Time:


1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
2 cups jasmine rice, washed and drained well
1 1/2 cups good, thick coconut milk (shake can to mix well before opening)
1Β  1/2 cups water
1/4 cup sweetened coconut flakes


Heat butter a medium sized, heavy saucepan over medium heat. When butter is melted, add brown sugar and salt, stir until dissolved. Turn heat to high, add rice and stir until all grains coated evenly. Add coconut milk and water. Stir. When boiling, immediately cover with tight fitting lid, turn heat to medium-low and simmer undisturbed for 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat but do not open lid. Really, no peeking! Let sit for 10 minutes. While rice is cooking, toast coconut flakes on a dry skillet over medium high heat. Stir frequently to avoid burning, remove from pan as soon as coconut is golden brown, about 2 minutes.

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Comments 62

  1. LunaPierCook

    Did you know Sony’s first product ever was a rice cooker? Yeah, that’s it, blame the Japanese … πŸ˜‰

  2. singleguychef

    J- I swear you’re the female version of me. I too have become handicapped by the ‘one-finger-push-button’ feature and my “peeps” have revoked my Asian card long ago.

    I made coconut rice and it was a little different than what you have here. My sister loves coconut rice and I think I’ll try this version because she’s a huge fan of caramelized shallots.

    Do post the article.

    p.s. I’ve been working on a pho recipe to try to regain my dual citizenship.

    LunaPierCook – I think my cooker is a Panasonic. You might be on to something. πŸ˜‰

  3. Mae

    It looks perfect! I’ve cooked coconut rice a thousand times but never, ever thought about adding some coconut flakes! Thank you for the inspiration. I shall be trying that next time.

    Oh, and i also rely very much on my rice cooker too – i even managed to influenced my friends to buy them. Haha. They all have rice cookers! πŸ™‚

  4. Amy

    I don’t know how to make rice without a rice cooker either! It’s so ironic being Asian and eating it everyday, and yet not knowing how to cook it. πŸ˜› Your coconut rice looks beautiful. Another dish of yours I have to try. πŸ™‚

  5. Lynn

    I never ate rice until I got a rice cooker. It was always either a soggy mess or a burnt disaster when I attempted stovetop. I love my rice cooker! Maybe you could just call yourself a modern modern member of the Chinese race?

  6. SteamyKitchen

    LPC- I owe my perfectly cooked rice to the Japanese! Eternally grateful….

    SGC- I bet we are related in a past life. Or who knows…maybe we REALLY are related!

    Mae- The coconut flakes are SO good on top – Its like candy! (and its pretty too!)

    Amy- We are so spoiled. I wonder if my Mom even knows how to make perfect rice without the cooker.

    Lynn- Ok! That sounds much better than “disowned member of the Chinese race”

  7. LunaPierCook

    Looks as though I need to post a simple rice recipe on my blog. Really, y’all, it ain’t that hard, even for a die-hard midwesterner like me! πŸ˜‰

  8. tigerfish

    I never tried making rice without the rice cooker because I’m just lazy :O …
    But you could get better results if you cook coconut rice on the stove-top because in the rice-cooker, the coconut rice seems to “lose its directions” and tend to get slightly burnt at the bottom.

    And you know what, I just made otak otak (spicy fish grilled in banana leaves) today(again), and it will go well with your rice πŸ˜€ Either we make the same food, or we cook dishes that complement one another. πŸ˜€ …The leftover coconut milk I used for the fish, was already intended for the coconut rice tonight :O ….

  9. Rose

    Too bad you rice cooker was broken when you needed it the most, because your rice looks divine. I bet they were still impressed by your scallops and mango,melon salsa.

  10. Heidi

    That looks fantastic. Although I adhere to Kohuko Rose (with the rice cooker, of course) I might just invite friends over to try cooking this for me…

  11. The Expedited Writer

    That rice will go very well with some curry, sliced cucumbers, boiled egg and some “sambal”. I think i just described a Malaysian specialty – Nasi Lemak! πŸ™‚

    I’m Malaysian, and I definitely know what you mean about having proper meals for breakfast. I used to eat soupy rice noodles with fishballs and tofu by-products for breakfast. Man…I am suddenly craving for “Chu Cheong Fun”…. :/

  12. LunaPierCook

    SGC, your About page don’t say nuthin’! Where are you at? BTW, I just wrote up a post on how to cook rice. Jaden’s not been in here, so I’ll probably be in big trouble, mister … πŸ˜‰

  13. Wandering Chopsticks


    Didn’t yo mama teach you the one finger technique? πŸ˜›

    Fill water up to the first line of the tip of your finger. You can also cook rice in the microwave in a tupperware. Just leave the lid slightly open for the steam to rise. 10 minutes I think?

    Also, when I make coconut rice, I find it easier to use coconut powder. More fragrant. But you can also stir coconut milk into the rice when it’s done cooking and let it rest for a few minutes to absorb the coconut fragrance.

  14. Anh

    Your coconut rice looks perfect. I am not a big coconut rice fan, but my BF’s family can’t live without it. I must perfect my coconut rice cooking skills to “survive” I think. πŸ˜›

  15. wokandspoon

    I think if I had Seared Sea Scallops with Mango Melon Salsa for lunch, I wouldn’t really care about the rice!! The sea scallops with the salsa would have made sure that I had forgotten about the rice completely! The dish looks fantastic and I love your creativity.

    As for cooking rice…I actually don’t have a rice cooker…well, I do but it’s in another country! So I’ve had to make do with cooking rice in a pot which comes out well … after having lots of practise!

    However I have burnt rice before (*hangs head in shame*)! I was using an electric cooker for the first time and forgot that it takes a while for the electric burner thing to cool down, so after the rice was cooked, I didn’t take it off the stove! Burnt rice. Now if there’s anything shameful for an Asian – it’s burnt rice!

  16. Umeboshi Superstar

    @wokandspoon: I had the same experience! Electric burners be damned.

    I noticed that the timing is really different with every pot that I have used (and perhaps every climate I have lived in too). I used to pride myself on perfect sticky rice in a pot, but the digital rice cooker is just too damned convenient to pass on.

  17. Kiriel

    I teach sushi making classes and when one of my students asked the innocent question “why don’t you use a rice-cooker?” I could only reply that I cook perfect rice the way I do and I wouldn’t know what to do with a rice cooker if I had one!

    The solution to the electric burner problem is to have 2 hotplates going; use the first to bring the rice to the boil, then move it immediately to the 2nd hotplate, already sitting on a nice low heat.


  18. dave

    Try replacing the oil for cooking up the shallots with clarified butter or ghee. I bet that would add to the caramelized flavor of them and kick everything up a little bit.

  19. V

    Another lovely dish! You have done well, my fellow Chinese sister! πŸ™‚ Btw, may I link you?

  20. Mandy

    well, we are indeed spoilt by the lazy one finger push button method! But thank God for rice cooker. Or I wouldn’t be able to eat perfectly cooked rice in this foreign land. Can’t wait to see the article and your seared scallop recipe.

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  22. Jason Truesdell

    Funny. I cooked rice on the stove for years; I just add a little more water than the rice, in volume, for jasmine or Japanese rice, bring to a boil, cook on low heat for 10 minutes, and rest for another 15 minutes. I use roughly 1.25 go of water per go of rice, using a Japanese measuring cup. Brown rice gets a bit more liquid. I adjust the ratios a bit depending on the quirks of the pot I’m using.

    When I first had a Japanese-style rice cooker in the home, I resisted using it because I always seemed to set it in the wrong mode, or accidentally set it to cook at 6 am, or neglect some other detail like making sure the upper metal lid had been reattached after washing.

    So I kept making the rice with a pot when I was the one making the rice… when someone more skilled in rice cooker operation than myself was around, I used the rice cooker.

    Now I’ve learned which mode does what and I can handle such high technology innovations without training wheels.

  23. Stephanie

    Love the look of your coconut rice…. as for cooking rice… I’ve always followed my mother’s absorption method – I think she picked it up from a great Indian cookbook she read 30 or more years ago. Great white rice every time, although doesn’t work with brown rice. I’m yet to get that right. But for white rice:
    1. have a kettle of boiling water on the go.
    2. get a lidded saucepan ready: heat about 1/2 tablespoon oil in the base of the pan (for one cup of rice); wrap the lid in a teatowel or piece of cloth to absorb the steam.
    3. when oil is hot, add 1 cup of rice and stir until rice is transclucent. Add two cups of boiling water to rice (it will spit and spurt like crazy), then a bit of salt, stir quickly, then cover the saucepan with the cloth-covered lid.
    4. Turn down to a low simmer. After maybe 10-15 minutes, all the water will have been absorbed into the rice, which should be cooked, with beautifully separate grains. No need to drain. (If you want to cook two cups of rice, use four cups of water, 3 cups of rice, six cups of water etc.)

  24. Freya

    I don’t own a rice cooker so it seems like a purchase I need to make (although my husband makes rice pretty well without one!). Looks lovely!

  25. Eva

    If it makes you feel any better πŸ˜› my husband fails at using the rice cooker. Most of the time its porridge. Occassionally, its ready to go straight to the pan for fried rice. He refuses to just use the little numbers in the pot~

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  27. MeltingWok

    My briyani expert friend is sick of me asking, how many bowls of water to put if I cook this in the rice cooker..I’m a total idiot ! This reminds me of my cheat-sheet briyani rice. I’ve cooked briyani rice with cooked brown rice (on the stove top), kept in on warm until all my other dishes are cooked, and what did I get ? Crusted rice grain stuck on my teeth, almost..almost landed me at the doctor’s office πŸ˜› For the coconut rice, I finally got it after numerous experiments hehe..hellaluya ! The trick is to add the coconut milk in 5-10 minutes before the rice is completely cooked, and only add each tablespoon in, stir and mix well, check back every couple minutes, and see if it gets watery, or if the rice needed more coconut milk. Anyway, I usually tie a knot on the pandan leave, and cook it together with the coconut rice, for the added fragrant flavors πŸ™‚

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  29. eden

    i tried this rice recipe
    and it’s so good ^__^
    the rice stays moist even after hours.
    thanks for sharing.

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  32. Murasaki Shikibu

    I learned how to cook rice just like the rice cooker (:p) with a normal pot from my grandmother during my university years – because I didn’t have one.

    Then I bought a nice rice cooker and used it for many years but ended up without one in Spain and since they don’t seem to sell them around here in Malaga. I’ve been cooking rice the old fashioned way again for 5 years now.

    One thing interesting is that a lot of Europeans who hate rice never washed their rice before cooking it and they complain about this ‘awful smell’.

    What they don’t realize is that even people who love rice wouldn’t eat THEIR rice. :p

  33. willow38

    This was the first time I ever attempted to cook Coconut Jasmine Rice. I followed the recipie to a “T”, but it seems the cooking time on this paricular recipie is incorrect.
    It requires a 50 minute cook time with a 10 minute rest and for this much rice and it also requires much more liquid than called for.
    That would have been nice to know BEFORE I RUINED IT ! Thanks

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  35. Tom Cook

    Hi there – great recipe. The principles of cooking rice without a cooker as you state here are perfect for many other variations of rice. The secret of course is to make sure each piece of rice is coated in oil before adding the liquids. So much more tasty than that horrible boil in the bag rubbish that so many people seem to use. Cooking rice following the above principle or simply replacing the liquids with just boiling water produces amazing rice in 15 to 20 minutes!

  36. Bonnie

    Hi, love the recipe and I would love to try it but I have one silly question do I cover the pot as soon as I start noticing it boil or do I wait till the water reaches the level of the rice and then cover the pot? (I do this with plain white rice) Thanks for your help

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  40. jen

    how would i make this using a rice cooker? you mentioned the portions of water/coconut milk would be different..

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  42. Melissa

    I love, love, LOVE this rice!! I cooked it for my husband who is from Cartagena, Colombia, where they eat coconut rice like 3 times a week!!! And he said it was better than his grandma’s!!! But don’t tell him I told you!!! It’s so much easier than the traditional way which takes several hours to prepare!!!
    So thank you so much Ms. Jaden Hair for this extremely easy and delicious recipe, now I can bring a little taste of Cartagena to my dinner table for my sweet husband!!

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