Creamy Coconut - Fig Risotto

Creamy Coconut - Fig Risotto

Risotto may seem complicated and time consuming, but this savory recipe is surprisingly simple and is rich in flavors that are sure to delight your taste buds. From the unexpected sweet pops from the figs against the savory background of the coconut and chicken; to the fig seeds dispersed throughout the dish that give it a fun crunchy dimension - if you like this recipe, thank a bat!

A tent-making bat (Uroderma bilobatum) helps disperses fig seeds. 
Courtesy of Norbert Wu/Minden Picture

What You'll Need:

1 tbsp oil (bacon fat, coconut oil, olive oil, butter)

4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

½ cup dry white wine or dry white vermouth

1 can coconut milk (with cream)

½ medium yellow onion, diced

1 ½ cups short-grain rice (sushi or Arborio) (bat connection!)

2 medium cloves of garlic, finely minced

2-3 tbsp sundried tomatoes, diced

handful of fresh parsley (1/2 cup packed), coarsely chopped

2-3 leaves of kale, diced

1 tbsp lemongrass, fresh or preserved, minced (substitute: lemon zest)

¼ cup fresh basil, Thai or sweet, minced

3 large figs, preserved, chopped (bat connection!)


How to Make It:

1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat 1 tbsp oil of choice over medium heat. In a separate saucepan, heat 4 cups of broth (chicken or vegetable) and half a cup of dry white wine or dry vermouth over medium-high heat, turning down to a simmer once it approaches a boil.

2. Sauté onions for several minutes over medium heat, until they begin to turn translucent.

3. Add 1.5 cups short-grain rice (Arborio, sushi rice) and stir thoroughly, coating each piece of rice with a bit of fat. Saute until rice is translucent (grains will have a small white in the center) and onions begin to caramelize, stirring every so often to keep grains/onions from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

4. Add a full can of coconut milk with the cream. Stir to thoroughly incorporate. Turn heat down to low and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.

5. While coconut milk cooks down, finely mince two medium cloves of garlic (or prep this beforehand so you can just scrape it in.) Mince two to three leaves of kale.

6. Once most of the coconut milk has been absorbed by the rice, give it a good stir, add a cup of hot broth from the second pot, stir it around again to incorporate, and add the minced garlic to the mixture. Dice a small handful (2 tbsp or so) of sundried tomatoes and add to the mixture at this step.

7. While the rice absorbs the broth, finely chop a generous handful of fresh parsley (roughly ½ cup packed.)
Optional: mince a tablespoon of lemongrass (fresh or preserved) and add to the rice. Stir 3-4 tbsp fresh parsley into the rice.

8. Add another cup of broth to the rice once the previous cup has been mostly absorbed. Continue to stir to make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.

9. Mince several large leaves of fresh basil. Dice three large preserved figs. You’ll add these at the very end, since they’re delicate and cook VERY quickly.

10. Add one more cup of broth and mix in, stirring occasionally to scrape the bottom of the pot. From this point you’ll add broth by the half-cup, testing the rice along the way. You’ve added enough liquid when the rice has a firm bite but is no longer crunchy. Salt to taste.

Turn off the stove, but keep the pot on the burner.

11. Add the kale and stir in.

12. Add the basil and figs and stir them in. Remove the pot from the burner.

13. Sprinkle a bit more fresh parsley on top, with a bit of zested lemon rind and cracked pepper for a pretty finish!

Pairings: A very savory dish, it goes well with any Thai-style food. If you are of the spicy inclination, this dish would probably benefit from the addition of a few hot Thai chilies added at the same step as the sundried tomatoes!










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