Cook-up or cook-up rice is one of those classic one-pot Caribbean meals mom would usually do on a Saturday (when she didn’t do a soup). However Mom’s usually came loaded with chicken, beef or salted meats, but in this version I like skipping the meat .. without sacrificing flavors for and iconic meal. Served HOT!
1 medium onion (diced)
4 cloves garlic (smashed)
4 sprigs thyme
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 scallions (chopped)
1/4 scotch bonnet pepper (diced)
1 carrot (cut into 1/2 cm wheels)
3/4 cup red beans (from a can – rinsed)
1 teaspoon turmeric
10 okra (1/2 inch chop)
1 large sweet potato (cubed)
1 1/2 cups squash (or pumpkin \ cubed)
2 cups long grain par-boiled brown rice
2 cups spinach
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
2 1/2 cups veg stock
1 teaspoon salt (adjust)
2 tablespoon parsley (chopped)
Important! If doing this recipe gluten free, please go through the entire list of ingredients to make sure they meet with your specific gluten free dietary needs. Especially the veg stock you use.
Heat oil in a deep/wide pan on a medium flame, then add the onion, garlic, thyme, scallions and black pepper. Turn the heat down to low and cook for about 3 minutes.
Add the scotch bonnet pepper (no seeds unless you want it spicy) and carrot, stir well, then add the beans and cook on low for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the turmeric, turn the heat to medium and add okra, stir. In now goes the sweet potato and squash (pumpkin will work too). At every point (when we add ingredients to the pot) stir well.
Go in with the washed rice and mix. Fold in the spinach along with the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Scrape the bottom of the pot as there will be some caramelization (flavors) develop at the bottom of the pot. Add the salt and bring to a boil.
As far as ‘washing” the rice is concerned.. this is to remove extra starch and grit as a result of the process of taking out the husk off the grains. So we’ll cover the rice with cool water in a bowl, massage with our hands, discard that water and repeat until that water is somewhat clear. Or rise under running water in a strainer, until the water runs clear – That’s “Washed” rice.
Lid on when it comes to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and allow the rice to fully cook and go plump. For a more creamy cook-up, stir the pot a bit and the rice will release more of it’s starch in the process.
25 minutes later, taste for salt and adjust… leave it ‘wet’ or you can remove the lid and burn off the liquid which remains. Toss in the parsley and you’re pretty much done. Note that the residual heat on a heavy pot will continue to cook the rice and thicken it up (after you turn off the stove).
For this classic dish, I like having a side of Tomato Choka as a side or condiment for an extraordinary vegan meal.