Chefs' Recipes

Sunda's crisp rice salad (nam khao)

It's the Melbourne restaurant's simplified version of the Lao-style salad, with crisp and crunch from the deep-fried jasmine rice.

By Khanh Nguyen
  • 45 mins preparation
  • 20 mins cooking (plus chilling)
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"This is a simpler version of a Lao-style rice salad," says Khanh Nguyen from Sunda. "It's great served as a side dish." The curry paste makes double what you need, but the remainder can be frozen for later.


  • 600 gm cooked jasmine rice (300gm uncooked), cooled
  • 50 gm (2/3 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • Coarsely chopped mint and coriander, to serve
Curry paste
  • 50 ml vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 25 gm (1/3 cup) desiccated coconut
  • 25 gm galangal, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 20 gm ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 15 gm fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp tamarind purée (see note)
  • 1 cup chopped coriander, including washed roots
  • 5 makrut lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 small fresh bay leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only), thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp coarsely grated dark palm sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes


  • 1
    For curry paste, process ingredients and 1 tsp salt in a food processor until smooth (makes about 1½ cups). Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, add 160gm paste (2/3 cup) and roast, stirring, until lightly coloured (2-3 minutes; the remainder can be frozen for up to 3 months).
  • 2
    Combine curry paste and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. With slightly wet hands, roll rice into balls the size of ping-pong balls. Refrigerate,uncovered, for 1 hour.
  • 3
    Preheat oil in a deep saucepan to 180°C. Deep-fry rice balls in batches until golden brown (2-3 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit), then drain on paper towels. Coarsely crush rice balls, scatter with mint and coriander, and serve with chicken larb or as a side dish.


To make tamarind purée, mix 40gm tamarind pulp with 40ml boiling water and stand until softened, then pass through a sieve, pressing firmly.
Wine suggestion 2017 Moondarra Studebaker Bianco. Wine suggestion by Brad Hammond.