Kitchen Lesson: Vacation at Home


It seems that everyone in the MSLO office has been on vacation this month. Since I’m bound to New York City for the summer, I decided to get my dose of vacation from within my own (tiny) kitchen.

For inspiration, I turned to Caitlin Haught in our food department, who shared one of her go-to dishes for easy entertaining: coconut rice with pan-seared chicken or fish.

“It’s something that seems fancy, but really isn’t very difficult,” Caitlin told me. “Use your one pot to cook rice with coconut milk, and then sear chicken or whatever meat you want. You can also do a quick sear on pineapple and peppers. It’s not hard, but it feels really sophisticated.”

Coconut rice offers a fluffy bed for any savory entrée. While this dish works just as well with chicken, I opted for mahi-mahi since it feels more elegant than poultry but is just as easy to prepare.

Coconut Rice


2 cups jasmine rice

1 ½ cups coconut milk

1 cup water

1 teaspoon coarse salt

½ cup shredded coconut

1 tablespoon coconut oil 

  1. Combine rice, coconut milk, water, and salt in a pot. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, then cook for 20 minutes.
  2. In a pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add shredded coconut and stir until golden brown. Garnish rice with toasted coconut.

Next, I pan-seared mahi mahi fillets in coconut oil with salt, pepper, and lime zest. Since I don’t own a zester (or a cheese grater, or a microplane grater, or really anything for zesting) Caitlin Haught taught me this homespun method to zest a lime: Quarter the lime and then peel off the rind. Use a spoon to scrape out the bitter white pulp, and then julienne the lime rind with a sharp knife. You can serve the zest either in long strips or dice it for a finer zest. Voila!

The mahi-mahi was crowned with fresh pineapple-jalapeño salsa, offering a bold flavor to balance the lightness of the fish. Almost like a trip to Hawaii, right?

(Bottom 2 photos by Allison Pohle)

Arielle Pardes is the Editorial Intern at Martha Stewart Living. She enjoys entertaining, exploring, and eating good food. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @pardesoteric.


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