In the spotlight: Shine Rice

Hi Everyone,

Say the words Shine Rice and the responses would range from nostalgia to longing to hunger. It is a simple one-pot dish, borne of inventiveness by knowledgeable cooks, that has been passed on through the ages. In the realm of foodie discourse, shine rice would be considered a “peasant dish”.  Peasant dishes are those created from accessible and inexpensive ingredients and seasoned or spiced to make them exceptionally pleasing to the palette. In other words, it is about taking simple, budget-friendly ingredients and cooking them with seasonings to taste really delicious.

Shine Rice is made with oil, onions, rice and coconut milk. The addition of dried shrimp or a piece of salt fish makes it outstanding.

I grew up hearing about Shine Rice but never actually ate it until I was living on my own. I’d hear older folks in and outside of my family talk about Shine Rice but I noticed that no one ventured to make it. For all the nostalgia about Shine Rice, perhaps the reluctance to make it brought back memories of a time they’d rather not dwell on? Or it may very well be the reasoning – why make something so ordinary when there are beans, peas and meats to add to the pot and make it Cook-Up Rice? Cook-Up Rice is also considered to be a peasant dish given the origins of its creation – taking the ends of a week’s rations and making a one-pot dish.

Shine Rice with dried shrimp & Fried Okra (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

Peasant dishes are not to be frowned upon for a number of reasons:

  • They speak to the ingenuity and creativeness of home cooksIt takes a high degree of cooking knowledge and skill to create such dishes
  • Today, these types of dishes are prized as ethnic foods by various cultures around the world
  • Even in homes of higher incomes where they can purchase any food they like, these traditional dishes are still desired

Eating for most of us is not just something that is physiological it is also about enjoyment and a feeling of satisfaction. Whenever I eat a plate of Shine Rice I marvel at its simplicity and ability to completely satisfy my taste buds. It is easy to see and taste why Shine Rice would command sudden hunger and longing. I’m sure you’re reading this right now, suddenly hungry for Shine Rice. Are you?

Yield:  6 cups

3 tablespoons oil
Salt to taste
1 cup finely diced onions
2 cups long grain white rice, washed and drained well
3 cups fresh coconut milk

1.  Add oil to pot and heat on medium heat
2.  Add onions along with salt to taste, stir to mix, reduce heat to low/simmer and let cook until the onions are softened or translucent. The onions should not develop a colour
3 .  Add rice and stir to coat and mix with softened onions. Let cook for 1 – 2 minutes without the rice developing any colour
4.  Add coconut milk, turn heat to medium high, taste for and add salt to taste. Stir pot, cover and bring to a boil. Let cook for 3 minutes then reduce heat to low/simmer and cooked covered for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is gone
5.  Remove pot from heat (still covered) and let rest for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork


  • If using dried shrimp, add ¼ cup dried shrimp to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 10 minutes, drain well and pat dry. Add the shrimp to the pot after direction #2.
  • If using salt fish, boil to remove most but not all of the salt, break into pieces and add after direction #2
  • If using parboiled rice, then you will need to use 4 cups coconut milk.



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