In heavy saucepan, bring coconut milk to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 35 to 45 minutes or until liquid evaporates and coconut solids start to separate from oil (see Tip). Cook, stirring constantly, for 15 to 20 minutes or until coconut solids turn golden brown.
Stir in rice, sugar and salt; cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until well coated. Stir in water, raisins and cinnamon; return to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes; fluff with fork.
Meanwhile, heat oil in large high-sided skillet set over medium-high heat. In batches, fry plantains for 2 to 3 minutes per side or until golden brown all over. Transfer to paper towel–lined tray. Season with salt.
Divide rice among bowls; top with fried plantains and avocados. Garnish with cilantro.
Look for coconut milk without any stabilizers, such as crystalline cellulose or xanthan gum (if coconut milk does have some stabilizers, it may not separate in Step 1, so add 2 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil when boiling).
This dish is a labor of love, not only does it require time and attention, there needs to be some planning. Most grocery stores don’t sell ripe plantains. Rather than wait a couple weeks for them to ripen naturally, you could throw them in a brown paper bag for a week or so. Accelerate the ripening by placing them in a warm and dry place. Worst case scenario, you could bake plantains for an hour or so at 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Although this method will not yield optimal results, as the plantains won’t be as sweet, it’ll do in a pinch.
From Colombia to the Caribbean, coconut rice is a common dish that often accompanies fish and meat. Double down on the savory characteristics by adding allspice, cayenne, or scotch bonnet. Unlike Thai Sweet Rice, which is boiled in coconut milk for a richer and sweeter coconut presence, arroz con coco has a subtle yet satisfying flavor and aroma. However, if you want to satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting those toasted notes, sub in brown sugar or — even sweeter — panela, a popular raw sugar in Latin America.
While you can’t go wrong with a sprinkle of cinnamon, mix things up by trying any one of these tasty toppings!
– Coconut: Get a more intense coconut flavor with a generous portion of grated or shredded coconut.
– Dried Fruit: Raisins or currants enhance this rice side by providing both a burst of sweetness and a satisfying chewy texture.
– Citrus: What’s more refreshing than citrus? While orange limes are traditional, any variety of orange wedges will be a delicious treat. Sprinkle on lemon or lime zest for a more subtle flavor.
For another Latin American inspired dish, check out this recipe for Mexican Rice and don’t forget to finish the meal with the best arroz con leche recipe. If it’s more of a European flavor you are after, then take a look at this Paella recipe.