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The zingy flavours in this salad make it perfect as a light side dish (or lunch) with some fresh Thai flavours. This recipe is inspired by a mixture between a dish called Nam Khao (Lao crispy rice salad) and a crispy rice salad served at the restaurant Sqirl.
The recipe uses day-old rice as it is drier than the fresh stuff and thus fries up very well! When trying to make this with freshly cooked rice, I encountered some issues with spluttering oil due to the remaining water on the surface. I did find that drying out the rice in the oven for 15 minutes helped a lot with this so if you’re in a rush, that is always an option. I used the Tropical Sun USA easy cook rice here as I liked that the grains are slightly chubby. This produces a nice crispy, puffy texture once fried – ideal for this salad.
The rest of the salad is quite simple, the remaining rice is fried with some ginger, spring onion and cabbage. Then a simple dressing based on lime juice is poured over everything and tossed together. I add thinly sliced red onion on top (you can leave this out if you’re averse to raw onion) as well as a lot of fresh coriander & mint for that light, bright flavour. This one is best assembled when you want to eat it but you can prep everything ahead (the crispy rice will keep in an airtight container overnight at room temp).
- 200g (1 cup) Tropical Sun USA easy cook rice
- Tropical sun vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1/2 head cabbage (sweetheart, white or red)
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, grated
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon vegan 'fish' sauce (or light sauce)(Can also use standard fish sauce, if not vegan/veggie)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon Tropical Sun agave syrup
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- Large handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped
- Handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- Cook the rice according to the directions on the package. Once cooked, drain to make sure there’s no water left. Spread the rice out on a baking tray and allow to cool completely at room temperature. Leave overnight (or for at least 1 hour) in the fridge to dry out.
- The next day, pour enough oil into a large frying pan to cover the base of it generously. Heat over a medium-high heat. Test the temperature by dropping a grain of rice into the oil, if it starts to bubble it is ready.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low then take a handful of rice and add it to the oil. Stand back as the oil will bubble up and may spit. Once the rice has reached a golden colour, remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with some paper kitchen towel. Repeat this two more times so you have about 3 handfuls of crispy rice.
- Remove the pan from the heat and decant most of the oil into a heatproof container, leaving some oil in the pan.
- Return the pan to the heat. Add the ginger and cook over a medium-low heat for 1 minute. Add the cabbage and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until softened slightly. Add the remaining cooled rice, the spring onions and grated carrot and stir together in the pan on the heat.
- In a jug, mix all of the dressing ingredients together. Pour over the rice and vegetables in the pan and stir to coat.
- Tip the contents of the pan out onto a serving dish. Top with the crispy rice, coriander, mint and red onion. Eat warm .
This recipe requires cooked and cooled rice. It's important that the rice is cooled as quickly as possible once cooked to reduce the possibility of getting food poisoning. This is why I recommend spread it out on a tray to increase the surface area so the rice can cool quickly.
If you’re finding that the oil is spitting excessively when frying, the rice is still too moist. You need to dry it out a bit more before frying. To do this, transfer the tray of rice to an oven heated to 100 C and let it toast for 10-15 minutes in there, stirring occasionally, until it feels dry.