Make Ahead

Forbidden Rice Salad With Thai Coconut-Lime Dressing

July 24, 2015
16 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Anna W
    Anna W
  • LittleMissMuffin
  • Cassandra Brecht
    Cassandra Brecht
  • Alison Bond
    Alison Bond
  • Debby Bissell
    Debby Bissell

57 Reviews

Genevieve L. September 15, 2021
This is an excellent recipe! One of my kids is vegetarian so I left out the fish sauce and subbed soy sauce.
Anna W. July 29, 2020
Made this today! A couple of notes - First of all, the estimated 20 minutes is a joke - if you factor in all of the chopping / juicing / zesting / poaching time it takes way longer. I used watermelon radishes because they’re typically larger than red radishes (it was hard for me to find “large” red radishes), and more colorful anyway. Also be careful with the amount of fish sauce - it’s inherently quite salty and that saltiness was a little overpowering - so next time I might cut the fish sauce by 50%. Lastly - I didn’t have any palm sugar so I used brown sugar and it turned out great. Overall the salad is colorful, looks impressive, has a great variety of textures, and I had two people ask me for the recipe within 5 minutes of posting it on Instagram. Would make again!!
Caroline August 4, 2019
Delish. Made it per recipe except I went light on the Serrano chile just in case. I would use the full amount of chile next time, it would benefit from that extra zing. Also, the time of 10 minutes is too short; all the zesting, juicing and slicing need more like 20 minutes. But definitely a keeper.
Rochelle B. July 22, 2019
Made this last night and did not deviate from the recipe at all and it was amazing! The combination of color, flavor, and texture was delightful. Maybe next time I might add scallions.
Rochelle B. July 22, 2019
Made this last night and did not deviate from the recipe at all and it was amazing! The combination of color, flavor, and texture was delightful. Maybe next time I might add scallions.
Lisa April 14, 2019
This is delicious!! I thought the dressing was a little hot/spicy for me when I tasted it alone, but it's perfect on the salad with the rice, chicken, and all the veggies!
Asha L. April 18, 2019
Hi Lisa! I am so glad you like it. I love the dressing too! I recently used it as a dipping sauce for spring rolls to great avail.
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?
rox L. November 14, 2021
A Thai grass. You can find it in the produce section, pull off outer leaved and only use about 4 inches of the stalk, smash the stalk then chop or very thin rings
edamame instead of snap peas and I think some cherry tomatoes would be nice. dressing a ten!
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?
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.
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!
Outi April 14, 2019
According to America's Test Kitchen, Red Boat Fish Sauce is the best fish sauce available all over the country.