Coconut rice is popular throughout Southeast Asia. Sambal means "sauce" in Malay, and this spicy tomato condiment is great with rich, sweet rice. If you can find pandan (screwpine) leaves (also known as pandanus or daun pandan), use two of them tied together in place of the bay leaves; they lend distinctive woody and floral undertones to the rice. Garnish with lime wedges and cilantro sprigs.
3 cups light coconut milk
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 red Thai chiles
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 cup peeled and quartered shallots (about 4 large)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes, undrained, seeded, and chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
How to Make It
To prepare the rice, combine coconut milk, rice, and bay leaves in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Let stand 5 minutes; discard bay leaves. Fluff rice with a fork. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt.
To prepare sambal, seed 7 chiles; leave seeds in 1 chile. Mince chiles. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add chiles and sugar to pan; sauté 1 minute or until fragrant. Add rind, juice, and tomatoes to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until thickened. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Serve sambal over rice.