Vibrant Turmeric Coconut Rice From Andrea Nguyen

November 19, 2019
12 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine.
  • Cook time 40 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The normal approach to coconut rice often leads to a mushy sibling to rice pudding. But Andrea Nguyen's turmeric coconut rice is a distant relative to the coconut rice you may know. This rice is fluffy, with defined grains of rice—no more mush! Despite the delicate layers of flavor, the recipe is simple in its ingredient list and approach. As Andrea Nguyen writes: "For decades I’ve been chasing this turmeric-stained rice perfumed with coconut, trying to figure out an unfussy way to make it well. Fancy versions of cơm nị call for frying the rice first and cooking it with coconut milk, clove, star anise, and cinnamon, but those additions tend to muddle the flavors. Plus, coconut milk can weigh down rice and turn it gummy.

Turns out that the key is using coconut water, a tropical ingredient that, in recent years, has become incredibly popular in America. During cooking, the coconut water hydrates the rice without overwhelming the grains, and it imparts a delicate, sweet tropical lilt. If available, grate fresh turmeric for extra vibrancy. Coconut oil delivers the rich closing punch. This rice is often served with curries, but I’ve found it’s also terrific with grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables. I pack leftovers for a cheery lunch."

Recipe slightly adapted from Vietnamese Food Any Day (Ten Speed Press, February 2019). —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Vibrant Turmeric Coconut Rice From Andrea Nguyen
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice, such as jasmine
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh turmeric, or 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  1. Wash the rice in several changes of water and drain well. An easy way to do this is to run water over the grains of rice in the medium saucepan you plan to use, swishing them in a circle with your hand, then pour off most of the water into the sink, holding the rice back with your hand. When the water is clearer after a few rinses (it will never be totally clear), drain the rice through a fine-mesh strainer and dump it back into the saucepan.
  2. In your medium saucepan over high heat, combine the rice, coconut water, turmeric, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally to loosen the grains. Lower the heat slightly and let bubble for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. When the rice is glossy on top, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes. Uncover, add the coconut oil, and fluff with chopsticks or a fork to combine and to circulate the grains. Re-cover and let rest for 10 minutes, or up to 30 minutes to finish cooking. Before serving, fluff the rice again.
  4. Transfer the rice to a serving bowl or platter and let diners help themselves.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • AntoniaJames
  • Anthony Luke
    Anthony Luke
  • Anna Newell Brothers
    Anna Newell Brothers
  • Regine
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

24 Reviews

rox L. August 27, 2023
Wow, this is the best coconut rice I have ever made. I shared this link with all my friends. A true keeper, I've stocked up on coconut water to be prepared to make anytime.
golden M. June 17, 2023
This is as delicious as all the reviews said. Cooking the rice I coconut water is a great idea, but the addition of the coconut oil is brilliant. I served it with chicken cooked on our Orion smoker and a romaine salad with a Calamansi vinegarette. This is a keeper
AntoniaJames October 26, 2020
Easily made in an Instant Pot or other electric pressure cooker. Use equal quantities by volume of rice and coconut water; Pressure / High setting for 3 minutes; let sit for 10 minutes and then manually release.

I put this recipe in my "Keeper" collection. That says just about all you need to know. ;o)
Michelle September 28, 2020
Seriously fantastic! Do yourself a huge favor and try this. Don’t skip adding the coconut oil at the end. A thing of beauty! ❤️
beccarichards February 18, 2020
Friends - has anyone doubled this recipe successfully? Thanks!
Anthony L. February 2, 2020
Simply amazing. Do yourself a favour and make a double or triple batch as this rice recipe is fantastic! Flavourful, beautiful colour and excellent texture. My wife wants me to make this every week. Goes extremely well with Andrea’s shaken Beef recipe. Every recipe I have made from Andrea Nguyen is a home run. Buying her book for sure.
judy November 27, 2019
I always add oil before cooking. Adding after was genius, as well as the use of coconut water. I tossed with the coconut oil and some lime zest at he end as well. So good. I can think of all kinds of ways to go with this. but this is wonderful rice. Thank you.
Anna N. November 25, 2019
This rice is beautiful! Perfect recipe
Renée R. November 24, 2019
This rice is phenomenal! I have also had the same issues with coconut rice being mushy and dull tasting. This recipe is deserving of its "Genius" label. The combination of coconut water and coconut oil bring this to a new level of delicious. Once in a great while, you happen upon a recipe this good. Bravo!
CHRISTINE M. November 23, 2019
We just made the rice in our Zojirushi rice cooker. Since I had frozen fresh minced Tumeric/ginger cubes in the freezer, I added 1/2 cube plus 1/8 t. ground Tumeric. We topped ours with toasted Bob's Red Mill Unsweetened Coconut Flakes. We served it with Sous Vide Black Cod with a soy/ginger/butter/Hoisin sauce and roasted bok choy which we purchased both from our Farmer's Market. I must say this is a fabulous rice recipe! It was bright and refreshing, with a light, coconut forward flavor. This is a keeper! Thanks you.
Fred V. November 20, 2019
This looks devine. Does anybody have any idea on the Macros for this recipe? It would help me decide if I could attempt it! I love the concept, for sure. So much better than the mush!!
Kristen M. November 21, 2019
Hi Fred, I'm not familiar with calculating macros (I just try to eat a good variety of foods, for my own enjoyment and health), but you could try asking the Food52 Hotline:
Fred V. November 21, 2019
I will give this a try! Thanks
Regine November 20, 2019
I will try this recipe tonight but I already know I will add the coconut oil with the rice and all, and cook it this way. CDP, I myself would add the oil with everything else in the rice cooker. I am basically an everyday rice eater (I am from the Caribbean) and we never cook rice without oil (or butter). But I would love to hear what Kristen (from Genius recipe) says about adding oil after rice is cooked.
Kristen M. November 21, 2019
Hi Regine, I think adding it at the end preserves the most coconutty scent of the coconut oil here (for similar reasons, refined coconut oil doesn't smell coconutty like unrefined/virgin does), but it would be interesting to compare with adding it at the beginning!
CDP November 27, 2019
Thanks for the suggestions and comments. I've always add some sort of fat at the start of the rice , too.
CDP November 20, 2019
Looks like this could be done in an electric rice cooker. Any thoughts about that? Would I add the coconut oil at the end, after its done cooking? Thanks.
Kristen M. November 21, 2019
Yes, if you love your rice cooker, go for it! And yes, just add coconut oil at the end, when you're fluffing, so you keep that fresh, coconutty scent.
CDP November 27, 2019
Thank you, that's what I figured. may give it a try this weekend.
Regine November 19, 2019
Looking forward to making it but this constant cookware preorder popup at the top of the screen drives me crazy. Looks like food52 is becoming shop52. I miss the old food52. 😆
Kristen M. November 21, 2019
Hi again Regine, I hear you. I'm not sure what pop-up you're referring to (the one I just got was to sign up for our Thanksgiving newsletter "It's All Gravy"), but thank you for understanding. Our Shop team works really hard to make products we love for (and with lots of input from) our community, and the Shop is vital to us being able to create and share free recipes and stories (and to me having a job!).
txchick57 November 28, 2019
That's because the site was sold to some private equity firm and they have to recoup their investment. The price was insane but kudos to the founders for getting someone to pay it.
Regine November 28, 2019
Thanks so much for your response Kristen. I do understand despite my whining. LOL

I just miss my old site but I will get used to it.

Thanks again! Regine
Regine November 28, 2019
Hi TxcChick
You said it well. Regardless of how I miss the old site, kudos to Food52 founders