Saturday, October 26, 2013

Nehm Khao- Lao Crispy Rice Salad

Lao Crispy Rice Salad.
Nehm Khao is a childhood favorite. It's rice that is seasoned with coconut cream, red curry paste, and my mom always added fragrant kaffir leaves and lemongrass. Lemongrass and kaffir leaves aren't traditional but my mom uses them and it's so very good. You don't have to add them, a good curry paste will already have these ingredients in it. You can also make your own Curry Paste and keep it in the freezer. The rice is formed into balls and fried until golden brown. The result is a flavorful crispy rice ball that is a great snack, and it makes an awesome Crispy Rice Salad called Nehm Khao. I used to snitch a couple as they came out of the fryer to snack on. When I was a little older my mom had me sit outside to watch the pot and fry the rice balls. The recipe makes a lot of rice balls. I would guess enough to make salad for 6 servings, and a few leftover to be eaten as is.

Som Moo is traditionally used. It's also what's pictured here. My mom switched to ham a long time ago. We rarely had Som Moo, it's a fermented pork. It's very good, but after I ate this I had the WORST migraine and sure enough it has MSG in it. I didn't give it to the girls, they had ham. 
Please read the recipe through before starting, I made lots of notes at the bottom.
More Curry paste posts on Give Peas A Chance
Crispy Duck Geang Phet
Coconut Curry Spaghetti Squash
Thai Curry One Pot Wonder 
Lao Nehm Khao.

Here's the method, scroll down for the full recipe.

For the crispy rice balls/Nehm-


Scoop out the thick cream off the top of the coconut milk. It will be the thick cream. 

Stir the curry paste into the coconut cream.

Mince the kaffir leaves and lemongrass very finley. Stir this into the coconut cream mixture.
Add the remaining ingredients for the rice balls. 

Mix well to incorporate the ingredients but don't over mix. The rice will become gummy.

Form the rice into tight golf ball sized pieces.
Heat the vegetable oil (or lard) for frying. About 350 degrees. You want enough oil to just cover the rice balls. 
Drop a few rice balls into the fryer, depending on the size of your fryer. Don't over crowd the pot/fryer, it will lower the temperature of the oil too much, you won't be able to turn the rice balls, and it may bubble over. I was able to fry up 5 pieces at a time.
Let the rice cook until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined platter.

Deep fried curry rice balls.
I cooked my rice for about 8 minutes each, but my fryer was acting up.
Make sure you let the oil come back up to temperature before adding the next batch of rice for frying each time.

Once all the rice is fried you can assemble the salad.

In a big bowl break apart 6-9 Nehm. Make sure they are cool enough to handle, but not chilled, room temperature.
Toss in remaining ingredients.  Starting with just half the juice from the lime.
TASTE.
Adjust seasonings and flavors.
Add Thai chili powder. (optional)
Top with toasted unsalted peanuts (optional- we're peanut free here)
Serve with lettuce, cilantro, lime wedges, and cucumber slices for lettuce wraps.

Give Peas A Chance Nehm Khao

1 can of unsweetened coconut milk, do NOT shake the can
3-4 tablespoons Thai Red Curry Paste
7 kaffir leaves
1-1/2 inch piece of lemongrass (just the tender part of the stalk)
1-2 shallots, depending on size
Salt
1- 2 egg yolks
9 cups cooked long grain rice, cooled or day old is fine
1/3 cup shredded coconut
8 ounces ground pork**
Vegetable oil for frying

Nehm Khao/ Lao Crispy Rice Salad

6-9  Nehm
1 1/2 cups chopped ham, or fermented pork ( Som Moo)
1 shallot*, sliced
8-10 kaffir leaves, minced
1 lime, zested if desired
1-2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves

Garnish-
Ground dried Thai chile powder
Whole dried chilies, fried in oil just for a second
Roasted, unsalted peanuts

For the crispy rice balls/Nehm-

  1. Scoop out the thick cream off the top of the coconut milk. It will be the thick cream. 
  2. Stir the curry paste into the coconut cream.
  3. Mince the kaffir leaves and lemongrass very finley. Stir this into the coconut cream mixture.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients for the rice balls. 
  5. Mix well to incorporate the ingredients but don't over mix. The rice will become gummy.
  6. Form the rice into tight golf ball sized pieces.
  7. Heat the vegetable oil (or lard) for frying. About 350 degrees. You want enough oil to just cover the rice balls. 
  8. Drop a few rice balls into the fryer, depending on the size of your fryer. Don't over crowd the pot/fryer, it will lower the temperature of the oil too much, you won't be able to turn the rice balls, and it may bubble over. I was able to fry up 5 pieces at a time.
  9. Let the rice cook until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on a paper towel lined platter.
  10. I cooked my rice for about 8 minutes each, but my fryer was acting up.
  11. Make sure you let the oil come back up to temperature before adding the next batch of rice for frying each time.

Once all the rice is fried you can assemble the salad.

  1. In a big bowl break apart 6-9 Nehm. Make sure they are cool enough to handle, but not chilled, room temperature.
  2. Toss in remaining ingredients.  Starting with just half the juice from the lime.
  3. TASTE.
  4. Adjust seasonings and flavors.
  5. Add Thai chili powder. (optional)
  6. Top with toasted unsalted peanuts (optional- we're peanut free here)
  7. Serve with lettuce, cilantro, lime wedges, and cucumber slices for lettuce wraps.
 Notes-
Use just the thick cream at the top of the can of coconut milk. Reserve the "water" for something else, like smoothies or Coconut Limeade Slushies. I should call my mom, I don't think she uses coconut cream in her Nehm.
No kaffir leaves? Just omit them, or add the zest of one lime.
IF you have extra kaffir leaves you can store them in the freezer or dehydrate them, I have done this with both kaffir leaves and lemongrass stalks.
No lemongrass? Leave it out, it adds wonderful flavor, but most curry paste already has lemongrass in it.
Ground pork- My mom used ground pork. I have left it out and I like it with or without.
Shredded coconut- You need UNsweetened coconut, get it at the Asian market. It will be finer than flaked coconut used for baking, and dry.
Rice- Use long grain. I use Jasmine rice. I use a little bit less water when cooking it. You want the rice to be cooked through, but not too wet/mushy. Once the rice balls are fried up, they are crumbled, if the rice is too wet/sticky it will not separate nicely. One the other hand if the rice is too dry, it will fall apart in the fryer. Ask me how I know.

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