Skip the Salad and Drink this Dressing Straight

June 13, 2017

The star of this rice bowl isn't the shredded chicken or the assortment of raw vegetables, it's the fish sauce-spiked dressing.

Take a moment to imagine a table set with two grain bowls: Fresh, raw peas, radishes, and red cabbage are piled over a bed of forbidden rice, named for its dark purple tint, with a poached, shredded chicken breast tucked in. At their sides are two glasses of wine (presumably second servings, since this recipe is so simple that it encourages a glass while assembling the bowl) and an opaque, coconut milk-based dressing filled with bright and briny elements. In it is a clove of minced garlic, cilantro and mint, the zest and juice from an entire lime, a hearty dash of fish sauce, and just enough serrano to give a kick to the sweet coconut milk and a bit of added palm sugar.

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While the grain bowls are exactly what you want for a weeknight dinner (a grown up-approved ratio of vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates), it's the dressing that gives this meal a unique, umami-packed punch. So pile chicken and vegetables over rice—the ingredients listed in the recipe pair well together, but this is a salad made for cleaning out your crisper drawer—but don't alter the dressing! We don't think it could get any better:


Forbidden Rice Salad with Thai Coconut-Lime Dressing

Serves 2

For the Thai coconut-lime dressing:

Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, preferably Red Boat
1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or light brown sugar)
Zest of 1 lime (about 1 to 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemongrass, finely chopped
1/2 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint

For the salad bowl and toppings:

1 1/2 cups cooked forbidden black rice
10 ounces poached chicken breast, shredded
2 small Persian cucumbers, diced
4 large radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red cabbage, shredded
1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded
1 cup snap peas, cut thinly on the bias
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint

Save (and print) the full recipe here.

What's a go-to dressing you love that tops the salad (pun intended)? Tell us in the comments below!

This article was originally published in September 2015.


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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • jp
  • witloof
  • Dawn
  • Jenifer Flynn
    Jenifer Flynn
  • Francoise
I eat everything.


jp May 17, 2018
How long can the dressing be kept, you think?
witloof June 18, 2017
Do you mean teaspoons of zest? Two tablespoons is a lot.

Great looking recipe.
Dawn June 8, 2016
Super delicious and refreshing! The perfect spring/summer dinner.
Jenifer F. June 8, 2016
Your lobster noodle recipe sounds wonderful! I'm going to try that too!
Francoise September 19, 2015
LOL Joan!
Joan W. September 19, 2015
Sodium be damned!! If sodium is going to kill me - which it probably won't - let it be by the thickest fish sauce or the lovely brine that covers year old preserved lemons!
Francoise September 19, 2015
It does sound delicious but it must be very high in sodium
HalfPint September 10, 2015
This dressing sounds fantastic and similar to the dressing that my mother use to make whenever we had lobster (yeah, lobster). Since lobster was expensive (and still is in some areas), she made a noodle salad with rice vermicelli, julienned cucumbers, bean sprouts, shredded lettuce, and lots of fresh mint. It was a great way to stretch the lobster meat to feed a family of 8. Once the lobster and noodles were cooked, it was a matter of assembling. Each person made their own bowl, drizzled the sauce on top and mixed it up. Now I'm getting teary-eyed from the memories. This was my Dad's favorite meal.
mia June 15, 2017
Whoa, this sounds amazing