Forbidden Rice Salad With Thai Coconut-Lime Dressing

July 24, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This vibrant, refreshing salad makes a great lunch or light dinner, but the dressing is really the star here. The bright lime and rich coconut milk pairs perfectly with briny fish sauce, spicy chile, and herbs. Warning: The dressing is addicting—it also makes a great dipping sauce for fresh spring rolls, chicken satay skewers, and lettuce cups.Asha Loupy

Serves: 2
Prep time: 10 min


For the Thai coconut-lime dressing

  • 1/4 cup just-squeezed lime juice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce, preferably Red Boat
  • 1/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar, or light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • 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
In This Recipe


  1. To make the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, coconut milk, and palm sugar in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.
  2. To assemble, divide the rice equally between two bowls. Divide the rest of the toppings in half and arrange on top of the rice. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing, toss, and enjoy!

More Great Recipes:
Salad|Asian|Thai|Grains|Lime Juice|Rice|Vegetable|Milk/Cream|Chicken|Coconut|Make Ahead|Spring

Reviews (48) Questions (1)

48 Reviews

LittleMissMuffin November 26, 2018
Can i use coconut milk that is meant for drinking/smoothies? I love califa brand almond coconut blend and it seems so much lighter plus has calcium
Katy J. June 14, 2018
This is the most amazing salad. I want to eat it everyday.
nrt137 March 17, 2018
Can I use lite coconut milk?
Lisa August 1, 2017
This is surprisingly flavorful and refreshing salad. It is also very forgiving. I had everything for the dressing except lemongrass and I substituted Serrano chilli with one Thai chilli. I have mint and cilantro in the yard. Mint was the most important in this salad. I do not have exact veggie either. I used carrots, green cabbage, edamame bean, and curly kale. I topped it off with soft boiled egg. A substantial, well balanced, nutritious meal. Thank you for thus great recipe!
EvaBee June 15, 2017
This salad is wonderful! I didn't have cucumbers the second time I made it so I used yellow bell peppers. I had pencil asparagus and chopped then blanched it instead of the snap peas. It was delicious and made me feel virtuous! It will be on my regular rotation of things to cook during summer. Thank you!
Cassandra B. June 15, 2017
Sounds like a perfect exotic, summery salad.
Outi May 25, 2017
Debby Bissell, lemongrass is an herb mostly available in Asian grocery stores and some well-stocked grocery stores.
Alison B. May 25, 2017
Hi there, I have a sensitivity to fish sauce and would like to make this dressing with a vegetarian alternative. Do you have any recommendations?
Lazyretirementgirl June 18, 2017
Alison, you might try miso and see if it satisfies.
judy May 11, 2017
From reading the comments, this recipe lends itself readily to whatever one might have on hand. I like to make enough cauliflower and grain combination for several "bowl" meals during the week. Add whatever is fresh or in my fridge. I really saved this for the dressing...yum! Thanks for more inspiration folks.
Debby B. April 30, 2017
I am cooking-illiterate....what is lemon grass?
edamame instead of snap peas and I think some cherry tomatoes would be nice. dressing a ten!
Author Comment
Asha L. October 4, 2016
Oh yum! I'm sure cherry tomatoes would be great in this. I've been using this dressing with cold noodle salads too.
Lynn S. August 28, 2016
I made this for 3 persons and it was delicious. I too thought the fish sauce was a little overpowering and would reduce it to 2 Tablespoons next time. I had an abundance of fresh ginger so I added 2 Tablespoons, and used the juice and zest of two limes.
marlo June 21, 2016
Loved this dish! Would love to have the dressing on hand, how long will it keep?
Author Comment
Asha L. June 22, 2016
Hi Marlo! I've kept the dressing in my fridge for 3 - 5 days. If I make a big batch, I tend to leave out the cilantro and the mint and then add that à la minute for my daily salads, etc.
SophieL June 15, 2016
I really, really wanted to love this salad, but the dressing just didn't do anything for me - just OK at best. I used the Red Boat Fish Sauce that's aged in Bourbon Barrels (bought on the Food 52 website) and I thought it overpowered the dressing; maybe the one lime I used wasn't enough and I should have used two limes. One thing I can say is that the salad is very healthy! But I won't be making it again.
Author Comment
Asha L. June 17, 2016
I am so sorry to hear that it didn't work out for you, SophieL! The strength and saltiness of fish sauces does vary, so I will have to do some testing with different brands. Happy cooking!
Margi H. June 14, 2016
This salad is amazing! Composed it exactly as Asha advised...did add a slight sprinkle of chopped peanuts. This is one that I will crave over and over! Thank you Asha!
Author Comment
Asha L. June 14, 2016
Thanks Margi. I am going to have to put chopped peanuts on it next time I make it, yum! I made this salad with brown rice noodles in lieu of the rice and baked asian chicken meatballs this weekend. I crave this dressing on everything!
Laura415 June 11, 2016
I could see this with Korean yam noodles. (like those used in japchae) They are my favorite GF noodle.
Author Comment
Asha L. June 11, 2016
It totally would work with Korean yam noodles! Let me know if you try!
Eileen B. June 10, 2016
Thanks Asha for the info on Forbidden Rice. I also love the idea of the cucumber noodles, grilled shrimp and peanuts. We live in Baja Mexico, so no forbidden rice here! Just ordered from our favorite shopping .
Author Comment
Asha L. June 10, 2016
Wonderful! I do hope you like the recipe as much as I do! Happy cooking, Eileen.
Vicki R. June 10, 2016
Any tips for making for four? Should I double everything ?
Author Comment
Asha L. June 10, 2016
Hi Vicki, this recipe can be doubled easily! I actually make double batches of this dressing to keep on hand for a variety of lunches. And when it comes to the vegetable toppings, a lot of the time I end up using whatever odds and ends I have in my fridge!
Eileen B. June 8, 2016
Not familiar with forbidden rice. Can you enlighten me please?
Author Comment
Asha L. June 10, 2016
Hi Eileen! Forbidden Rice, or black rice, is one of my favorite grains--it finds its origins in China and has a similar toothsome texture to wild rice with a beautiful aromatic nuttiness to it. I make big batches of it and use it all week long.

The two brands that I buy are the Forbidden Rice from Lotus Foods and the Venere Riso Nero from Principato di Lucedio (which is actually a Forbidden rice hybrid of Chinese black rice and an Italian rice varietal, grown in Italy). I hope this helps!
Rick June 10, 2016
Sounds like wild rice would be a great substitute for Black Rice. Is this true?
Author Comment
Asha L. June 10, 2016
Hi Rick, yes, you could certainly substitute wild rice if you didn't have Forbidden rice handy.

The dressing is very versatile. I have used rice noodles or soba noodles in lieu of the black rice as well. Or if it is really hot outside, I love the dressing over spiralized cucumber noodles with grilled shrimp or chicken and chopped peanuts. Let me know if you come up with any new combinations!
mauigirlcooks June 8, 2016
This sounds fantastic! I love Forbidden rice, but haven't made a salad from it...yet.
Author Comment
Asha L. June 8, 2016
Thanks @mauigirlcooks! I love Forbidden rice too. I particularly love the Venere Black Rice from Principato di Lucedio - super nutty and aromatic.