“Desserts aren’t just about sweetness - you can get creative with textures, spice and savoury notes like I’ve done here with the lemongrass and chilli. The curd and rice pudding are equally delicious served on their own, but I love the contrast in textures, especially when topped with fresh seasonal fruit. That said, why wait for dessert? You could serve this as an indulgent breakfast too.” Rachel Khoo, Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne
- 100 g arborio or risotto rice
- 400 ml coconut milk
- 1 tbsp (heaped) grated palm sugar
- pinch of salt
- 2 un-waxed lemons, zest finely grated, juiced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, roughly chopped and bashed
- pinch of salt
- 80 g caster sugar
- 90 g unsalted butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp coconut flakes
- 12 fresh or drained tinned lychees
- 2 passionfruit, halved
- 1 red chilli, seeded and finely chopped (see Note)
- 1 lime, zested
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Chilling time 30 minutes
Place the rice, coconut milk and palm sugar in a medium saucepan and stir over low heat for 15 minutes or until thick and creamy and the rice is still a little al dente. Pour the rice into a small tray or flat container lined with plastic wrap and press evenly to make a flat surface. Stand until cool, then refrigerate for 30 minutes or until just set (see Note).
Meanwhile, to make the lemongrass curd, place the lemon zest and 60 ml (¼ cup) juice in a small saucepan. Add the lemongrass, salt, sugar and butter and stir over low heat and heat until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat and stand for 30 minutes. Strain, discard the solids and return to the pan. Whisk the egg yolks in a bowl, then add to the lemongrass mixture and whisk vigorously until well combined. Place the pan over low heat and whisk continuously for 7-8 minutes or until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Do not boil or the curd will split.
Once the curd thickens and releases a bubble or two, remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl. Place a piece of plastic warp directly onto the curd to prevent a skin forming, then refrigerate until cold.
When the coconut pudding is set, invert it onto a chopping board and remove the plastic wrap. Cut the pudding into 4 rectangles and place on serving plates. Sprinkle with coconut flakes, lychees, passionfruit and little chopped chilli and lime zest and a good dollop of lemongrass curd.
• You only want to chill the rice pudding until it’s set but not too cold as the rice tends to harden and lose its lovely creaminess when refrigerated for too long.
• When buying palm sugar (gula Melaka in Malay) make sure to check the ingredients. Cheap versions will be combined with regular sugar which means the sugar won’t have the intense caramel flavour. Palm sugar is available from Asian supermarkets.
• If you can’t find palm sugar, use maple syrup rather than regular sugar as it has a more intense flavour. The coconut milk in the rice pudding can be replaced with whatever milk you fancy (almond, rice or cow’s milk).
• If the chilli is very spicy, put it into a little saucepan and pour boiling water on top. Leave to sit for 5 minutes before draining.
Photography by Prue Ruscoe. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Leanne Kitchen. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
Orwall plates from Freedom Australia.