This recipe is a prize winner, time after time.
Over the weekend, I was binge-watching “Beat Bobby Flay”. I’d recently bought Bobby Flay’s “Bobby At Home: Fearless Flavors from My Kitchen” (Clarkson Potter 2019). It is his latest in a library of 14 cookbooks he has written, an astonishing output from this extremely busy chef. Just the day before, I’d made his signature Crispy Coconut-Scallion Rice to much acclaim. In “Bobby At Home” he wrote “If there is one single dish that is responsible for me winning on Beat Bobby Flay, it is this one. Not served on its own, obviously, but alongside braises and Asian-inspired dishes.” So it should have come as no surprise that on my binge, crispy rice made Bobby into the winner not once, not twice, but three times. And in every case, it was the deciding factor in his win. No wonder. The aroma of coconut and the crunch and flavor of scallions alone lift this rice to another level. Add to it the crispy-ness and this is rice unlike I’d ever tasted before.
The Case for Trader Joe’s Chinese Food
I’ve been cooking a lot of rice recently as we’ve been eating lots of Asian food. We strive for home-made and non-processed food. But Confession Time: I love a lot of the frozen Chinese entrées from Trader Joe’s. I really don’t want to start a food fight over whether they’re good for you or bad. What I do know is that TJ’s uses no artificial flavors, no artificial preservatives, no MSG, no genetically modified ingredients, no partially hydrogenated oils (artificial trans-fats). Caveat emptor: Their sodium counts are high–if you are on any kind of reduced sodium diet, that is important to know. What I also know is that Trader Ming’s (the name you’ll see on the Chinese dishes) are an incredible value. In New York City, they run about $4.99 for what could easily be enough for three people.
Our Trader Joe (or Trader Ming) favorites…and one that’s not up to snuff.
Our favorites? Hands down, Kung Pao Chicken is on the list. There’s a reason their Mandarin Orange Chicken is the #1 item sold at Trader Joe’s. The Shitake Mushroom Chicken dish greatly improved with some red pepper flakes, that too makes the grade. And we just discovered the Honey Walnut Shrimp –although there’s a split decision: I loved it. Andrew thought it was too sweet. Finally, you can do no wrong serving their low-fat Chicken Chow Mein–except you can’t serve it with today’s rice recipe. It comes with its own noodles. There is one bomb. You can keep their Beef with Broccoli. The latter is not all that hard to make and theirs is just not up to homemade.
Changes we made to the recipe you might want to consider yourself
Bobby Flay’s Crispy Coconut-Scallion Rice isn’t at all hard to make. I diverged from the original recipe a little. Flay suggests you should make the rice the night before or even use leftover rice from Chinese take-out. Secondly, he uses Carolina long-grain rice. Ever since I got back from Asia two years ago, I’ve used nothing but Jasmine Rice from Thailand for Asian food, Basmati from India for Indian cooking. I am guessing that these may not be as easy to find as Carolina–especially if you live in a Trader Joe-free zone.
When using Jasmine rice, the instructions are clear.
The rice has to be rinsed several times. I start by putting whatever quantity I am making, in this case, 2 cups of rice, into a saucepan and then fill it with water. I swish the water around and it’s extraordinary how milky the water becomes. Then I pour both water and rice into a strainer and run it under the tap until the water under the strainer runs clear. The idea portion of liquid to rice is exactly two cups. Here one cup is unsweetened full-fat canned coconut milk and the other cup water. You bring it to a boil and the minute it boils, turn the stove off, let the rice stand for 18 minutes. Wait another five minutes, fluff the rice then spread it on a baking sheet and let it cool completely in the fridge. The cooling time is why Bobby Flay recommends cooking the rice the night before. I did not. But I did allow a good hour and half of refrigerator time. Follow the rest of the recipe instructions and you’ll end up with Bobby’s prize-winning rice. Just one thought: You can’t have too many thinly-sliced scallions. The suggested ½ cup all but disappears just when you are supposed to be sprinkling the finished rice with more scallions. Here is the recipe which is exactly how Bobby wrote and not how Monte changed it.
Other Bobby Flay Favorite Recipes follow right after this one.
Bobby Flay's Crispy Coconut-Scallion Rice
A prize-winning take on Rice which brings it up a notch with its coconut flavor and crispy crunchy texture
- 1 cup unsweetened full-fat canned coconut milk
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups Carolina long-grain rice
- ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, plus more for garnish
- ¼ cup canola oil
- Step 1 Combine the coconut milk, 2 teaspoons salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the rice and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 18 minutes.
- Step 2 Remove the pan from the heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Spread the rice in an even layer over a large baking sheet and let cool completely, about 30minutes. The rice can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Store it on the baking sheet, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
- Step 3 Combine the rice and scallions in a large bowl. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick pan over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Add the rice and, using a heavy-duty metal spatula, immediately press the rice down into the pan until the top is flat. Cook, without stirring, until the bottom becomes golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes (start checking at 4 minutes, making sure not to burn it). Turn the rice over and press down firmly on the top again. Cook until the bottom is golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a platter, sprinkle with more scallions, and serve.