The Beautiful Coconut Crab Rice

He brought in a few bags from the farmers market and began to prepare our lunch. I heard him rustling around, unloading produce, pans banging down on the stove and utensils clinkety-clanking as he was scuttling around, making something mysteriously good. Suddenly, from the kitchen emerged such wonderful aromas of cumin and coriander, while a sheet pan of coconut flakes toasted in the oven. He handed me a bag of salad greens and a bag of bok choy.

“All you have to do is make a salad,” he said, while wielding the blade of the chef’s knife upon the cutting board, ready to chop up leeks, onion, and garlic. He asked me to zest a lime, which I gladly grated for him. I was bubbling with pleasure just to have him in the kitchen, enjoying another Sunday afternoon together. The kids were all busy with activities, so we had this leisurely moment alone to cook. And one of my greatest fantasies has come true: the man I love cooking a beautiful meal for me.I just find this to be so sexy.

I tossed the salad greens into a wooden bowl, added some wild arugula, diced up a juicy ripe pear, sprinkled in blue cheese crumbles, and all the while I was pleased with myself by doing so, feeling very clever, I realized I was tossing salad next to a culinary virtuoso. It made me feel silly for even trying. Darling was cooking up a veritable exotic vacation of coconut, lime, crab, cilantro, cumin and coriander. Basmati rice boiled in a large pot. He diced up luscious red chili peppers and halved a Scotch bonnet habanero chile.

Then he handed me a bunch of baby bok choy. “Figure out what to do with these. I have no idea. I only got them because they looked so beautiful at the farmers' market,” he mused.

"Oh, yes, so beautiful!" I cooed as I cradled a handful of bok choy in my hands. But what was I to cook with it? Since I had no plan for the bok choy, I simply sautéed it in sesame oil, shoyu (organic “natural” soy sauce), fresh grated ginger (lots of it) and fish sauce. We both love the way bok choy looks, but as for what to do with it? Less is more.

But the salad and bok choy paled in comparison to the marvelous feast-sized bowl of the beautiful Coconut Crab Rice. I set the table outside with batik napkins and decorative towels, not in a hurry, just so relaxed, as though we were on vacation. I was already wearing a bathing suit and sarong from sunning and swimming earlier in the day. The rice emanated an exotic bouquet of spices, coconut milk, toasted coconut, cilantro, cumin, coriander, and lime. Ah, the scent of coconut and lime!

Darling thought out loud that some eggs would go nicely on top of the coconut rice. He asked me to poached two eggs, which I did dutifully. The thrill of the wondrous smells from the kitchen had carried over into the climactic moment of eating. The bamboo screen divided our view from the balcony overlooking the pool. I felt so coconut-laden as I used coconut oil on my skin for sunning by the pool, and thought a piña colada would have been a perfect match for this kind of day. Instead I poured a beer into some glasses, set out some water glasses with lemon, and admired the large bowl of steaming coconut rice. He sat in front of me, looking so debonair and casual, as if it were nothing to make such a thing. I had a private moment of simmering lust for him, because the bountiful pillowy bowl of this ambrosial rice was enchanting my senses. I was noticing how handsome he is, and I can assure you, he seemed even more handsome to me after he made this dish. I don’t need encouragement to lust over my Darling, but I was overwhelmed by his creation, and so romantically influenced by such a meal, I let out a sigh of contentment.

We sprinkled the eggs lightly with pinches of black lava salt from World Flavors, a spice purveyor that Darling found at the farmers market. He also used a little smoked sea salt which smelled delicious out of the bag in came in.

 We had Sunday to cook, to eat, and to make love. Because after he made this exceptional dish, there was nothing else I could do but express my absolute happiness and pleasure. Cooking for each other is delicious foreplay. What else could be sexier?

The salad went untouched. I wrapped it up and put it away. The bok choy was tasty enough, but just a little salty, as I ran out of mirin, which would have sweetened and balanced it just right. He thought next time the rice would be better complimented by substituting or adding shrimp. Coconut, shrimp, cilantro and lime are all beautiful together, and perhaps some lemongrass? Of course, I'm crazy for eggs, and had no complaints about the rice by itself either. it's so good, you really don't need to add much of any other ingredient.

Here is the recipe for the Coconut Crab Rice. You can add shrimp, tofu, or fresh crab, however you'd like.

  • 6 cups of basmati rice, cooked as directed (seasoned with butter and some spice is recommended), use less rice if you want a looser rice dish.

  • 1 cup lump crab (or shrimp, tofu)

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 1 cup of toasted coconut flakes

  • 1 cup of cilantro

  • 1 medium onion

  • 4 cloves of garlic

  • 1 leek (optional)

  • 2 stalks of green onions

  • 1 or 2 limes (for the zest and juice)

  • 2 red chili peppers

  • 1 Scotch bonnet habanero (optional)

  • canola oil (save your EVOO)

  • 1 – 2 tsp (or more) coriander

  • 1 – 2 tsp (or more) cumin

  • chili flakes

  • salt and pepper to taste

All of the above ingredients can be chopped in advance and mise en place'd while the rice is cooking for approximately 20 minutes while the coconut flakes are toasting in the oven. Once the rice is finished set it aside.

Sauté in canola oil, the onions, garlic, and leeks until it starts to have some color. Using a fancy olive oil is unnecessary. Add the spices and chili flakes to the mix and let it cook for about 2 minutes. Important: let the spices cook out the raw flavor and develop layers.

Add in the chili peppers for flavor and color (you can add the habanero for heat at this point or add in the next step--- a simple halved habanero with the seeds taken out, You can leave the stem on to make it easier to pluck out!).

Next deglaze the pan with the lime juice and coconut milk. Bring to heat.

Add in the lime zest, coconut flakes, cilantro, and green onions. Reserve enough of each for garnish. Add in the crab/shrimp/tofu and let it come up to temperature. (you can add raw shrimp to the warm milk and let it poach) Add the rice. Mix until the rice absorbs the coconut milk (don’t forget to take out the habanero if that is included).

Season and garnish to taste. Serve with a side of sriracha sauce.  It's up to you. If you add poached eggs, top your individual rice serving with the egg and enjoy!