Southern Thai Rice Salad with Shrimp (Khao Yam)

  • Serves

    serves 4-6 People

  • Cook

    1 hour


A Thai-style granite mortar and pestle is recommended for making this dish, which involves pounding aromatic ingredients to bits before incorporating them into room-temperature rice. Traditionally, it includes a pungent leaf known as skunkvine or stinkvine; if unavailable, you can omit it.

Featured in: On This Thai Island, Coconut Goes Into Everything

What You Will Need


  • 1 12 cups long-grain rice (11 oz.)
  • 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen shredded coconut
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. Thai shrimp paste
  • 1 small knob galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (⅓ cup)
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, green tops trimmed, tough outer layers discarded, thinly sliced (⅓ cup)
  • 10-15 fresh Thai chiles (½–¾ oz.), stemmed
  • 20 medium cooked shrimp (9 oz.), thinly sliced
  • 12 large betel leaves, thinly sliced  (⅓ cup)
  • 5 long beans, thinly sliced (½ cup)
  • 4 small shallots, peeled and sliced (⅓ cup)
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced (1 Tbsp.)
  • 1 small unripe mango (10 oz.), peeled and shredded on a box grater (1 cup)
  • 1 small lime, peeled and diced (¼ cup)
  • 1 12 tsp. Thai thin soy sauce
  • 12 tsp. Thai chicken bouillon powder
  • Fish sauce, to finish


Step 1

Rinse the rice under cold water; drain and add to a medium pot. Add 1 cup water and bring to boil over high heat. Cover the pot, then turn the heat to low; cook until tender and the water is absorbed, 18–22 minutes. Remove from the heat. Set aside, covered, for 10 minutes or up to 2 hours. Fluff with a fork.

Step 2

Set a large wok over medium-low heat; add the coconut and cook, stirring frequently, until dark brown and fragrant, 30–35 minutes. Transfer to a large mortar and pestle; let cool. Wipe the wok clean and return it to low heat. Add the oil and shrimp paste, and cook, stirring and crushing, until fragrant and combined with the oil, 2–3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.

Step 3

In the mortar and pestle, pound the coconut to a coarse powder. Transfer it to the bowl with the shrimp-paste mixture. Add the lemongrass and galangal to the mortar, pound it to a coarse paste, and transfer to the bowl. Repeat with the chiles. Finally, add the cooked shrimp, betel leaves, long beans, shallots, kaffir lime leaves, mango, lime, soy sauce, bouillon, and cooked rice to the bowl, and stir well to combine. Adjust the seasoning with fish sauce as needed before serving.

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