Coconut milk is more common in American households than ever before, thanks to wider availability of both the thicker, canned coconut milk and the lighter drinkable coconut milk that is sold near the soy and almond milks.
This recipe from “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd (Quadrille, $19.99) wisely uses the thinner coconut milk as the liquid in which to cook a flavorful bed of rice for seared, thinly sliced beef. Both components are infused with Thai flavors, from the bird’s-eye chili to the Thai basil, fish sauce and rice vinegar.
It’s a great way to use up any pickled red onions you might already have in a jar in the fridge, and instead of the sirloin tip steak, you could use a flank steak or a London broil. This dish serves two, so double if you’re feeding more than that or would like leftovers.
Coconut Rice and Thai Beef
1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. jasmine or white long-grain rice
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more as needed
7 oz. coconut milk (from a refrigerated carton, not full-fat from a can)
3 Tbsp. plain rice vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. water
1/4 medium red onion or 1/2 small red onion
1 (7-oz.) piece flap meat/sirloin tip, about 3/4-inch thick
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Thai (bird’s-eye) chili pepper
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
1/2 small bunch Thai basil (may substitute green/Genovese basil)
Leaves from 4 to 6 cilantro stems
For the dish: Combine the rice, a pinch of salt and the coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; once the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until tender and the liquid has been absorbed. Turn off the heat, cover and let the pot sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, stir together the vinegar, sugar, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the water in a medium bowl. Cut the onion into very thin slices, then add to the bowl, making sure they’re submerged.
Heat a cast-iron skillet or grill pan over high heat. Rub the steak with a little oil, then season lightly with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, so the steak is pink at the center (medium-rare; 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Transfer to a cutting board to rest.
Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork. Drain the onion slices and discard all their liquid except for 2 tablespoons, which you’ll place in a large liquid measuring cup for the dressing.
Stem and seed the chili pepper, then cut crosswise into very thin slices; add to the cup. Crush and mince the garlic and add to the cup. Squeeze a tablespoon of juice from the lime half, then add the sugar and fish sauce, stirring to incorporate.
Coarsely chop the Thai basil and cilantro leaves. Uncover the rice; add those herbs to the rice, then pour the dressing over and toss gently to incorporate.
Cut the meat into thin slices or bite-size chunks, as you like. Divide the dressed rice and meat between individual bowls. Top each portion with some of the quick-pickled onion. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Serves 2.
— Adapted from “Posh Rice: Over 70 Recipes for All Things Rice” by Emily Kydd (Quadrille, $19.99)