Crispy rice ball salad with fermented pork sausage

Crispy rice ball salad with fermented pork sausage

Nam khao som moo

Street Food Asia
4–6 As part o f a shared me al
Alan Benson

In Bangkok, if you’re walking around and see carts hawking something that look like Italian arancini rice balls, drop what you’re doing and order some. You’ll most likely end up with this salad; it’s beyond fantastic. Originating in Laos, which has much in common with the Isaan food of north-east Thailand, it’s got all the bold flavours this part of the country is known for. To make the balls, cold cooked jasmine rice is mixed with dessicated coconut, shallots, chilli and garlic then bound with egg, formed into balls and fried until golden, crunchy and crispy. These get pulled apart, tossed with a pile of herbs, some pork skin and peanuts, then finished with a punchy, limey dressing. One of the best parts of this dish though is the fermented pork sausage, a speciality of Isaan. It’s made by raw-curing pork with pig’s skin, sticky rice, salt and chilli and the end result is deep pink and tastes deliciously sweet and porky. The idea with this dish is that, to eat it, you take a betel leaf or a lettuce leaf, put some rice ball and a bit of everything else over it along with the dressing, wrap it up then eat it with your hands.


Quantity Ingredient
60g boiled and sliced pork skin
3 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
120g som moo fermented pork sausage (see glossary), sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
2 red asian shallots, finely sliced
5 coriander sprigs, roughly sliced
1 handful thai basil leaves, roughly sliced
1 handful mint leaves, roughly sliced
1 bunch betel leaves (see glossary), to serve
8 iceberg lettuce leaves, to serve

Rice balls

Quantity Ingredient
300g steamed jasmine rice, cooled
3 red asian shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon chilli powder
50g desiccated coconut
2 eggs, beaten
50g potato starch
vegetable oil, for deep-frying
4 red chillies
sea salt


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar


  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. To make the rice balls, put the cooled steamed rice, shallots, garlic, chilli powder, desiccated coconut and half the beaten egg in a bowl and season generously with salt. With wet hands, mix all the ingredients together well, then shape the mixture into golf ball-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a small mixing bowl, mix together the remaining beaten egg, potato starch and 2 tablespoons of water to form a light batter.
  4. Pour enough vegetable oil for deep-frying into a wok or deep-fryer and bring to 180°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil browns in 15 seconds.
  5. Coat each rice ball with the light batter, then add to the hot oil in small batches and deep-fry for 3–4 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels and leave to cool.
  6. Now deep-fry the red chillies for 3 minutes or until crisp. Drain and set aside to cool.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, break the rice balls into bite-sized pieces, then add the sliced pork skin, peanuts, fermented sausage, spring onions, shallots and herbs, and mix together well. Pour over the dressing and toss together.
  8. Transfer the salad to a serving platter and garnish with the fried chillies. Serve with betel and iceberg lettuce leaves for wrapping and eating.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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