My hubby and I went to NYC a couple months ago and it was his first time there and my first as an adult. Of course, we did lots of the touristy things: Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Rockefeller Center, Museum of Natural History, the subway (does that count?) Those were all incredibly fun - but one of our favorite parts of the trip was trying all the FOOD. (No surprise there.)
While we were walking through East Harlem, we came upon this Dominican restaurant called Santiago’s. We could tell it was special right away. It has this great old-school-authentic-meets-hipster vibe, with colorful outdoor murals and a chic beer garden for seating. The service was fantastic and the food was so flipping good. There were delicious vegan options including, stewed red beans, fried plantains, and yellow rice, but the star of the show was their coconut rice.
Not to be confused with Thai coconut rice, Dominican coconut rice is a savory dish of sautéed rice and beans, cooked in broth and coconut milk. The result is a flavorful and creamy dish with a light coconut flavor.
This recipe is quick and simple enough to make on a weeknight, but interesting enough to feature on the weekends. Warm, comforting, and filling - it is the perfect recipe for cool weather.
Enjoy this taste of the Dominican Republic in your own home and, if you ever make it to East Harlem, be sure to stop by this gem of a restaurant.
Dominican Coconut Rice and Beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped finely
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 15 oz cans green pigeon peas*
2 cups water, mixed with 1½ tablespoon vegetable bouillon**
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk (fully fatted, not light)
2 ½ cups long grain rice
* Dominican coconut rice uses a type of bean called pigeon peas. Pigeon peas are a small legume frequently used in Indian and Caribbean cooking. You can buy canned green pigeon peas at a local Latino market, or online here.
** This is my favorite vegetable bouillon. (You can sub in vegetable stock, but you’ll probably want to add some salt.)
Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and cilantro, and saute until onions are translucent - about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and saute, stirring, about 2 minutes more.
Add pigeon peas, vegetable bouillon/water mixture, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice and bring to a boil again. Lower heat to medium-low, cover pot and allow to simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Once liquid is absorbed, stir from the bottom up, and cover and cook until rice reaches your desired doneness.
Fluff rice and serve on its own, or with a side of fried plantains (see my Platanos Fritos recipe here). Enjoy!