Julianne and I really enjoyed rice and peas when we were in Jamaica. She still thought my version was the best so I’m making them on our first day back from our latest trip there. We had rice and peas with most of your meals and it inspired me to cook up a batch once we got home. They’re called rice and peas but it’s really rice and beans. Some people use kidney beans in their rice and peas but I like a bean that’s a little smaller. Black beans are good. I found a can of aduki beans at Safeway and they seemed to be the best. They’re small and brown and work well in this dish. I forgot to pick up scallions so those are missing from my recipe tonight.
1 1/2 cups of long grain rice
1 – 14 oz can of aduki beans
1 – 14 oz can of light coconut milk
1 medium onion – chopped
2 cloves of garlic – chopped
2 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp salt
pinch of chilli flakes
pinch of sugar
pinch of cinnamon
Measure out a cup and a half of rice and set it aside. Open the can of aduki beans and drain the liquid into a measuring cup. You’ll never separate all the liquid from the beans so don’t bother trying. Next add the coconut milk until it comes pretty close to 2 1/2 cups. Normally when cooking long grain white rice you use 3 cups of liquid for 1 1/2 cups of rice. We’ve added onions and beans so that can add up to a 1/2 cup of liquid on it’s own. You can always add a little hot water near the end of the cooking process if it look like it was too dry. It’s not really easy to correct too much liquid when cooking rice so less is always better.
The first thing that you’ll think when you throw the onion in the pan is “Ack!!! That’s too much onion.” Don’t worry we’re gonna cook those onions until they’re brown and tasty so there will be a lot less onion by the time they’re ready. Put the onions in a pan with a little olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar on them. It’s not really for taste it’s more to help the onions get their start on the way to golden brown. Start the pan on medium heat and slowly reduce the heat while the onions brown. The plan here is not to get them brown as quickly as possible. That tastes like crap. We’re slowly coaxing the natural sugars out of the onion so they end up brown and sweet. Once you think the onions are brown enough… add in the garlic and ginger and cook a little longer. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon and nutmeg. Be careful not to go too wild with the cinnamon and nutmeg. It can really take over the flavour profile.
Add the rice to the onion, garlic, ginger and spice mixture. Mix it around so all the grains are coated and then add in the drained beans. The next thing you’ll think is “Ack!!! That’s too many beans.” No worries. The rice will expand once it’s cooked and it’ll be alright. Mix that up a bit and add the liquid. Bring to a boil and quickly lower the heat. I try to be careful when working with coconut milk. It’s really delicate under high heat so at the first signs of bubbling you need to reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let the magic happen. I test my rice by using a fork to make a hole in the rice so you can see the bottom of the pan. If the bottom is dry it’s probably done. Give the rice a taste. If it’s still kind of crunch then consider adding a little hot water. If it seems close to done then take the pan off the heat, give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes or so.