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Author Notes: Nam Khao is a Lao dish from my childhood. It's mainly comprised of crumbled curried coconut rice balls and Lao sour pork (which can be found at Lao and some Southeast Asian markets). Despite the pork and fried carbs, it's flavor doesn't come across as heavy. It's brightened up by lime, fresh herbs, and toasted chili flakes. It's served as a DIY lettuce wrap for you to pile on additional herbs as well. It's one of my all-time favs. Hope you like it. —Ann Daranouvong
- 6 cups cooked Jasmine rice
- 2 cups fresh shredded coconut (Available in the frozen food aisle of most Asian markets. Don't use dried coconut.)
- 3 tablespoons red curry paste
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons ketchup (Trust.)
- 6 tablespoons fish sauce
- 9 ounces nam (Lao sour pork. Available at Lao and Southeast Asian markets.)
- 3 limes, divided
- 1 cup green onions, finely sliced
- 1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup mint, chiffonaded
- 2 tablespoons toasted red chili flake
- 3 tablespoons toasted peanuts, chopped
- 2 cleaned heads of lettuce, for wrapping
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, for wrapping
- 1/2 bunch mint, for wrapping
- Place the cooked Jasmine rice in a large bowl. With your hands, gently mix in the coconut, red curry paste, garlic, ketchup, and 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce. Once evenly distributed, mix in the egg, making sure to coat all of the rice.
- Using your palms, cup about 3/4 cup of rice, pressing firmly to form full, round discs. Place the shaped rice balls on a large plate.
- In a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat your frying oil on medium high heat. The oil is fry-ready once a chopstick placed in the oil forms bubbles around it. I keep a thermometer in the oil as well, but it's only really to make sure my oil doesn't drop below 325 or above 375. The temperature will rise and drop throughout the cooking, so I don't get obsessed with the actual temp.
- Place a baking sheet lined with a few layers of paper towels near your stove.
- Once the oil is ready, place 3 rice balls in the oil. Fry for about 2 minutes on each side or until they are a reddish, medium brown and develop a firm and crisp crust. Place cooked rice balls on the lined baking sheet to cool. Repeat in batches of 3 or 4 until all of the remaining rice balls are cooked. Let the rice balls cool for 5 minutes.
- In an extra large mixing bowl, crumble the rice balls. Crumble your sour pork on top of your rice mixture.Add the green onions, chopped cilantro, chiffonaded mint, 5 tablespoons of fish sauce, red chili flake, and the juice of the 2 limes. Stir to evenly combine. Transfer to a large serving dish.
- Serve topped with toasted peanuts (and more red chili flake, if you're a champ), alongside a platter of lettuce, herbs and lime slices for wrapping.