Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Brown Rice-Coconut Soup with Caramelized Banana Topping

This comforting soup, another one of our riffs on a Mangoes and Curry Leaves recipe, is like a gingery cream of rice that you can eat for dinner. The first time we made it, we actually had to run a batch over to our friend Aryn, because it was too delicious not to share. In addition to being a good way to use up leftover rice, this dish is a really great thing to come home to after a day that was stressful, rainy or both.

Bananas? For Dinner?

4 cups cooked brown rice (preferably short-grain, since it will blend more easily)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 and 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large cloves thinly sliced garlic
2 inches very thinly sliced ginger
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, minced
1 can coconut milk
1 tablespoon dry sweetener or 2 teaspoons agave nectar
2 tablespoon canola oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
3-4 bananas (a little under-ripe if possible), sliced into rounds
extra salt, as needed

Anything Is Dinner Around Here If You Add Chiles

Put cooked rice in a blender with 3 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt and blend until broken down but not too smooth. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan and add garlic, ginger, chile and shallots. Fry for only 2 minutes -- you want it to stay crispy. Pour in the rice mixture and coconut milk, add sweetener, and cook until heated through and totally delicious, 5 or so minutes.

(If you are a banana-hater--hi Lauren!--you can stop here. But if you have even a glimmer of openness to bananas, please give it a try).

Now for the exciting part: banana topping! Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil plus butter in a cast-iron skillet and gently add in bananas. Cook on medium-high for 2-3 minutes on one side, then flip slices over and fry until well browned. The key here is not to stir--you don't want the bananas to turn to mush.

Taste the soup and add more salt if you need it. Ladle into bowls and top with the bananas.

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