Thai Purple Rice with Scallops and Coconut Milk Broth

When Michael and I competed in the university Iron Chef Battle Rice competition, we used brown basmati and red Himalayan, but there were a few other exotic varieties we didn’t put on our menu. We were curious to try them though, so we got some samples after the competition. One of these was Thai purple rice.

The rice, also called black sticky rice, is generally used with sweet flavor profiles, especially in desserts. It becomes sticky when cooked, and has a slight nutty flavor. I found a recipe for scallops and purple rice using lemongrass and coconut milk that sounded really good, but I didn’t execute very well. The broth came out really sweet because I was out of cilantro and didn’t add quite

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enough lime juice. I also might not have let the other flavors steep long enough in the coconut milk.

This was one of those times that I should have stuck to the recipe a little more carefully.

Thai Purple Rice with Scallops and Coconut Milk Broth

Original recipe modified from Susan Spicer of Bayona Restaurant in New Orleans

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemongrass, grated or finely chopped

  • large sea scallops (3-4 per person)
  • 1 cup purple rice
  • 2 teaspoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 2 teaspoons canola or peanut oil
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 2 cans coconut milk
  • Juice of 4 Limes (We didn’t use quite this much, which is probably why we found the broth too sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (We used 1 habanero pepper instead)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • cilantro stems or thai basil stems

Mix 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 tablespoon of lemongrass, and a little salt and pepper, then toss the scallops in this mixture. Set aside until ready to cook.

Put raw purple rice in a strainer and rinse under cold running water for 5 minutes. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a 2 quart pot and sweat shallots and garlic until tender. Add rice, stir and saute for 2 minutes, then add water, sugar and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Rice should be tender but still slightly chewy. Keep warm or reheat with a little water and coconut milk.

Heat oil in a 2 quart pot and saute lemongrass, ginger and shallots for about 5 minutes, stirring. Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, habanero or sambal oelek, sugar and herb stems, and bring to a boil. Turn off heat and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain and keep warm, or reheat when ready to serve.

Sear the scallops in a hot non-stick skillet, cooking about 2 minutes on the first side, and one minute on the second side. Place a large spoonful of purple rice in each of four shallow bowls, top with the scallops and ladle coconut broth around. Garnish with cilantro, scallions or fried shallots.

6 Replies to “Thai Purple Rice with Scallops and Coconut Milk Broth”

  1. Love your website! (Thanks for dropping by mine–it is how I found you). This recipe looks outstanding. Scallops are a recent interest of mine–I disliked seafood my whole life but as an adult am gradually distinguishing what I truly dislike (salmon, many shrimp dishes) from I what really enjoy (tuna, scallops, fish-n-chips). I love Thai food and am always on the lookout for creative takes on it. I use sticky black rice in dessert all the time but had never tried savory. This is going into the to try list.

  2. A few days after reading this entry, my sister-in-law mentioned that she had some Thai purple sticky rice. So we had to try this. We followed the recipe pretty closely and it was excellent!

  3. Laura — Thanks for coming by. I’ll be sure to try the rice in a dessert. I think it’s much more suited to it.

    Gwen — I hope you come over sometime soon to try the other rices. I want to do something sushi-like with the green bamboo rice. Michael bought daikon today, so I anticipate good things.

    Phil — I’m glad someone tried this and had success. Ours was good, but just not quite there. Thanks for letting us know the recipe worked out for you!

  4. Black rice is a deep black color and usually turns deep purple when cooked. Its dark purple color is primarily due to its anthocyanin content, which is higher by weight than that of other colored grains but more limited in the number of different anthocyanin species present.’

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  5. Lemon oil may be used in aromatherapy. Researchers at The Ohio State University found that lemon oil aroma does not influence the human immune system, but may enhance mood.

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