By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina
Growing up in a country with access to a variety of tropical fruit was definitely a luxury. In the small town of El Rosal where I lived, we didn't have any major supermarkets, but we had several farmers nearby who gathered on Sundays to sell their organic, fresh greens. I usually accompanied my parents to the mercado and filled up the trunk with exotic fruits and veggies, a load which usually included 15 pounds of oranges to make fresh-squeezed juice every day. My dad made sure to taste the fruit before we bought the rest to see if they were ripe and ready to eat; he'd peel a tangerine and give me half, while my embarrassed mom felt obligated to buy 25 tangerines. Sometimes they had fresh coconut, and you could have a farmer break it open for you on the spot. What a treat! Fresh coconut water is so delicious and refreshing.
Once we had finished the coconut water, my mom would take the meat or pulp of the coconut and make the most amazing arroz con coco (coconut rice). Surprisingly, the key to this recipe, besides the coconut, is adding a whole can of Coca-Cola. It's like making regular rice, but instead of cooking it in water, you soak it in a blend of coconut milk and coke. It is usually paired with a fish of your choice and patacon pisao' (fried smashed plantains). Give it a try and invite your amorcito (or sweetheart) to a romantic and delicious dinner. Arroz con coco
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 oz. grated coconut
2 cups parboiled rice
12 oz. coconut milk (1 can)
12 oz. Coca-Cola (1 can)
½ tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 oz. raisins plus extra raisins for serving
Arroz con coco
Preheat a pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and grated coconut, and let it cook for 2 minutes. Add the rice, coconut milk, Coca-Cola, salt and brown sugar. With a wooden spoon mix the ingredients until the blend becomes brown and the rice is completely soaked in the mixture. Let the liquids evaporate until the rice looks almost dry. Add the raisins and mix well. Cover the pot and lower the temperature to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes (don't open the lid, though). Remove the pot from the stove, and let it sit for 3-5 minutes before serving. Top it with extra raisins, and serve it warm in individual bowls.
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