Fluffy coconut rice eluded me for years. And finally, I’ve cracked it. This is super fluffy, none of the gluey coconut milk scum on the surface. Just like you get at restaurants!
Truly fluffy coconut rice alluded me for years. I felt like I tried every variation possible, but when I lifted the lid, I’d stare at dismay at a layer of coconut fat scum on the surface of the rice which ended up coating all the grains when I fluffed the rice.
Finally, I feel like I’ve cracked the secret code. And every since then, I’ve never looked back. Fluffy coconut rice every. single. time WITHOUT FAIL!
Here’s the secret to fluffy coconut rice
- Rinse the rice – this is a must to remove excess starch. I don’t do this when cooking normal white rice. It’s essential for coconut rice because coconut milk is thicker than water so it can make the rice a gluey mess. Just rinse the rice until the water is pretty clear. It will never be 100% clear.
- Soak rice for 20 minutes – this essentially gives the rice grains a bit of a head start in the water absorption phase which is critical to ensure the rice is fully cooked because we cook the rice in LESS liquid than usual…. explained further in the next step!
- LESS liquid than usual! Normally, I religiously follow the 1 : 1.5 ratio to cook rice. That is, 1 cup of rice to 1.5 cups of water. But every time I did this for coconut rice, using a combination of water and coconut milk (increase / decreasing in my many iterations!!), my rice always came out gluey! I was astonished to discover that 1:1 is the perfect ratio. That is, 1 cup of rice for 1 cups of coconut milk + water combo!
- Can’t just use coconut milk – it’s just too thick, the rice can’t absorb it properly. It needs to be diluted with some water. I find the perfect flavour / rice texture is achieved by using 1 can (400ml/14oz) coconut milk with 1/2 cup of water (just over 2 cups) for 2 cups of rice.
- Bring to boil, stir ONCE, THEN lower heat and cover – This is quite key as well! I do not understand the science behind this, but suffice to say that bring to a boil before covering results in clean, fluffy rice grains. On the other hand, if you cover and keep the stove at a low temperature the whole time, you end up with a thick layer of coconut milk “scum” on the surface of the rice.
And that, my friends, is the secret to fluffy coconut rice.
It’s a lot of words. But don’t worry, actually cooking it is super duper simple!
How to rinse rice
I find it easiest to rinse rice in a bowl. Just pour the rice in a bowl and fill with water, then swish it around. Drain (just pour the water out best you can, no need to use a colander), then fill with water again and repeat 4 to 5 times until the water is pretty clear.
The water will never be completely clear! My rule of thumb is 4 to 5 refills of the bowl.
BONUS: There’s an even EASIER way to make this using coconut milk powder. I’ve popped that extra recipe below the coconut milk recipe (ie scroll to bottom of post). It’s an extra because I coconut milk powder isn’t as common as coconut milk. While I always have coconut milk on hand, I don’t usually have powder!
How to make Thai / Asian Coconut Rice
To get a true Asian restaurant coconut rice, the secret is to add Pandam leaves. If you can’t find Pandam leaves, kaffir limes leaves also add a similar fragrance.
This is what Pandam leaves looks like. It’s sold at some Harris Farms in Australia, as well as Asian stores.
To prepare them for use, just knot them – this breaks the leaves, releasing the flavour so it infuses into the rice.
What to serve this with
Coconut rice is a rice dish that is used in cuisines such as Caribbean, Tropical (Hawaiian!) as well as South East Asian foods such as Thai and Malaysian foods.
But don’t let “rules” restrict you. Use it as you wish – and I promise you, it’s so delish, you can even eat it plain, straight out of the pot!
Hope you enjoy! – Nagi x
Coconut Rice will go great with…
- Chickpea Potato Curry or Vegetable Curry
- Jerk Chicken
- Beef Rendang
- Thai Marinated Chicken (Gai Yang) or Southern Thai Chicken
- Thai Chilli Basil Chicken Stir Fry
- Pineapple Coconut Hawaiian Chicken Skewers
Restaurant Style Coconut Rice (Coconut Milk)
- 2 cups (360g) jasmin or long grain white rice (Note 1)
- 400 ml / 14 oz coconut milk , full fat or light (Note 2)
- 1/2 cup (125ml) water
- 1 tbsp white sugar (Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp salt
Asian Restaurant Style - use ONE:
- 3 pandam leaves , knotted
- 3 kaffir lime leaves , crushed in hand
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut , toasted, to garnish
- Rinse rice in water until the water runs pretty clear. (Note 1)
- Drain rice then soak in water for 15 minutes. Then drain.
- Add rice, coconut milk, water, sugar and salt into a small pot or large saucepan over medium high heat. Add pandam or kaffir lime leaf if making Asian restaurant style option.
- Bring it to a simmer so the entire surface of the liquid is rippling (not just the edges), give it ONE stir (not more!), place lid on and immediately turn heat down to LOW.
- Leave for 14 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and rest, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
- Fluff with rubber spatula. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using, then serve.
Restaurant Style Coconut Rice - Coconut POWDER
- 1 cup jasmine rice (or long grain) (see notes)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 packet coconut milk powder (1.75 oz / 50 g) (see notes)
- 2 kaffir lime leaves , crumpled in your hand OR 3 pandam leaves, knotted
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp desiccated coconut , toasted, to garnish (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over high heat. Place lid on.
- When it comes to the boil (watch it, you don't want it to boil over), turn down the heat to low / medium low so it is simmering gently.
- Leave it to simmer for 12 to 15 minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Fluff with fork. Garnish with toasted coconut, if using, then serve.