Vibrant Turmeric Coconut Rice 4.000

Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Feb 18, 2019

Vietnamese cookbook author Andrea Nguyen says the key to making this dish properly 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. Coconut oil delivers the rich closing punch.

If available, grate fresh turmeric for extra vibrancy; you can find it in more and more supermarket produce departments these days.

This rice is often served with curries, but Nguyen found it’s also terrific with grilled meats, seafood and vegetables. She packs leftovers for lunch.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice, such as jasmine
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut water (see headnote)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons peeled, grated fresh turmeric, or 1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (see headnote)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil


Wash the rice in several changes of water (which should go from cloudy to clear) or place in a strainer and rinse under running water, then drain well.

Combine the coconut water, drained rice, turmeric and salt in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to loosen the grains, then reduce the heat to medium and let bubble for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the surface of the mixture is glossy, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10 minutes. 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 separate the grains. Re-cover and let the rice rest for 10 minutes, or up to 30 minutes, to finish cooking process.

Before serving, fluff the rice once again.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from “Vietnamese Food Any Day,” by Andrea Nguyen (Ten Speed Press, 2019).

Tested by Andy Sikkenga.

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