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  • Writer's pictureCulinary Cam

Laoka with Vanilla Rice for when #SundayFunday Collides with #EattheWorld

This post is pulling double duty today with one recipe for both our weekly #SundayFunday theme and our monthly #EaththeWorld event. Read more about the Eat the World project, being spearheaded by Evelyne of CulturEatz; here's her challenge.

The #SundayFunday Recipes

Stacy of Food Lust People Love, Sue of Palatable Pastime, Rebekah of Making Miracles, and Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm coordinate this low-stress group; we only participate when we are inspired.

Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures picked the theme of Madagascar to coincide with our Eat the World posting date. Perfect! Additionally, she is also hosting (the movie) Madagascar for our online Movies & Munchies group this month. So, if you are part of two or three of those, you could plan really well and prepare one recipe to fulfill the posting deadlines. Here's the line-up for our #SundayFunday group...

The #EattheWorld Line-Up

If you're curious, I posted a different recipe for the Madagascar #MoviesandMunchies event. I shared Maki Sushi and Memories of My Madagascar-Loving Toddler.

Let's Talk about Vanilla

We often use the term 'vanilla' derogatorily, to mean plain, boring, ordinary. How completely misguided! Having spent many hours scraping the caviar out of the beans, infusing syrups, steeping pods, and immersing vanilla in salts and sugars, I see vanilla for the complex, exotic, and intriguing ingredient that it is.

You have probably encountered quite a few types of vanilla: plain old vanilla plus Tahitian, Mexican, and Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. I once thought that 'bourbon vanilla' referred to the alcohol used when making extract; I use vodka when making my homemade vanilla extract. But that was incorrect.

Most of the world's vanilla is from the Vanilla planifolia orchid that grows in Madagascar, Réunion, and other tropical areas along the Indian Ocean. The bean's common name is Bourbon vanilla - after the former name of Réunion: Île Bourbon. For this post, I got my hands on some organic Madagascar vanilla beans.

Vanilla and Seafood

I had never really considered vanilla as a pairing for seafood. But years ago, when my boys and I were cooking our way around the world, we encountered a recipe from the Comoros Islands for lobsters with vanilla sauce served with clover sprouts. At the time we substituted for spot prawns and arugula, but it was then that I recognized just how much vanilla and seafood are a match made in culinary heaven. Check out my Vanilla-Flecked Black Cod en Papillote.

The Importance of Rice in Malagasy Cuisine

Malagasy is the adjective used to describe anything related to the island, its people, or its language. And rice is an important part of Malagasy cuisine, appearing in almost every meal. It may be prepared vary sosoa, a soupy porridge; vary be manaka, cooked with fatty pork; or vary amin’anana, a porridge mixed with meat and greens. When it's served as a side dish, whatever is the main dish is referred to as laoka. Variations of laoka dishes are countless and include pork, beef, or seafood. I decided to make a seafood dish with vanilla!

Laoka with Vanilla Rice


Prawn Laoka

  • 1 pound prawns, peeled and deveined

  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons oil

  • 1 carrot, chopped

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed

  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger , grated

  • 2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 vanilla pod, sliced lengthwise and caviar scraped

  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

  • salt to taste

  • Also needed: fresh cilantro chopped

Coconut and Vanilla Rice

  • 1 cup rice

  • 2 cups water

  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste (if you use extract, you won't see the caviar flecks)

  • 1 teaspoon salt


Coconut & Vanilla Rice

Pour water into a saucepan and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Stir in the rice, salt, and vanilla. Cover and let steam until the water is fully absorbed, approximately 15 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and cook until that is absorbed and the rice is tender, approximately another 15 minutes.

Prawn Laoka

Place prepped prawns in a glass bowl. Massage in garlic, ginger, and lemon juice. Let marinate for 5 to 10 minutes.

In a large pan heat oil and add in the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until the onion is softened and translucent, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and coconut milk. Whisk in the turmeric and add in the vanilla pod and seeds. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.

Arrange the prawns in a single layer in the pan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes until pink and opaque on the bottom. Flip the prawns over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

To Serve

Spoon rice into individual serving dishes. Top with laoka. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.

Our #EattheWorld Year in Review

And just for fun, here are the countries we visited in 2023 by tabletop. I love this group though I didn't participate every month this year! My recipe is in parentheses, then you can see everyone's offerings in there. If I didn't participate, I linked to another blogger's recipe from the event. I will be better next year. I promise.

Looking forward to another year of culinary adventuring. Thanks, again, Evelyne for starting this delicious group.

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3 comentarios

10 dic 2023

Often have made rice with coconut and cardamom but addition of vanilla is interesting. Prawn loaka is something hubby would love.

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Wendy Klik
Wendy Klik
10 dic 2023

What a scrumptious looking stomach actually grumbled.

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Camilla M. Mann
Camilla M. Mann
10 dic 2023
Contestando a

Frank can't eat coconut though, right? Well, I hope you get to enjoy this sometime because it was delicious!

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