Earlier research at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka has shown that cooking rice with coconut oil added to the water can reduce the rice’s calorie content by up to 50 per cent. According to The Washington Post, this method alters the starch in white rice to “resistant starch" that our bodies can’t digest. Which means fewer calories per bowl of grains. Apparently, for it to work, you need to add coconut oil to the water while it’s boiling, then add the raw rice. Finally, you cool the grains in the fridge for about 12 hours before consuming them. We can’t vouch for the veracity of these claims, but it can’t hurt to try. The best part about this nasi lemak is that you’re better off getting started a day ahead. Besides cooking the rice the night before to take advantage of the aforementioned benefits, you should also make the rempah (spice blend) and marinate the fish overnight to get the best flavour. Which means that on the day of your meal, you need to do very little work. This one-dish meal offers pretty much the same lemak shiok-ness of coconut milk-infused rice, but with purportedly fewer calories.
For the rice:
1 cup white rice
2-3 tsp cold-pressed coconut oil (try Cocorosco)
1½ cups water
For the fish:
1cm piece fresh turmeric (kunyit)
10 dried chillies, soaked in hot water and drained
3 fresh red chillies
12 slices galangal (lengkuas)
½ tsp belacan
1 tbsp organic cold-pressed coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 cod fillet, or snapper (about 180g)
1. To make the rice, bring water to the boil in a pot.
2. Add coconut oil to the boiling water, then the rice.
3. Cover the pot with a lid and reduce heat to low for the barest simmer.
4. Cook rice for 20 to 25 minutes.
5. Allow the rice to cool, then chill in the fridge overnight.
6. Reheat rice when necessary (try steaming).
7. To make the fish, place the turmeric, dried chillies, fresh chillies, galangal, candlenuts and belacan in a small food processor and blend to form a paste. Or pound using a mortar and pestle. Add coconut oil and salt, and mix.
8. Smear the fish fillet with this paste and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 15 mins or overnight.
9. Place the fish on a piece of foil and grill in a 180°C pre-heated oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
10. To serve, place the heated rice on a serving plate and top with the baked fish. Garnish with a few cucumber slices, if desired.