This salad has lots of wonderful ingredients, like peanuts, ginger, and herbs, but the headliner is the crisped-up rice. Some people make it with rice balls, but I like to make the rice cakes thinner to give the rice more surface area, which means maximum crispiness. Oh, and we top it with a sunny-side-up egg, which makes everything better. (This trick works with a pizza, a burger, meatballs, asparagus . . . yeah, pretty much everything.) —Food52
In a 9-inch cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350°F. (Use a deep-fry thermometer or test the oil by dropping in a grain of rice; if it sizzles immediately but isn’t burning, you’re good.)
While the oil is heating, make the rice cakes: Put the ½ cup flour in a shallow dish. In a large bowl, whisk together 1 egg, the chili paste, and the remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Add the rice and mix with your hands. Form the mixture into 8 patties 3 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Dredge the patties in the flour and set on a plate.
Fry the dried chiles and peanuts in the oil just enough to darken them slightly, being careful not to burn them, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels; set aside for garnish.
Working in two batches, use a Chinese spider or slotted spoon to gently lower the rice cakes into the oil and fry them until crispy and golden brown, flipping halfway, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the cakes from the oil and allow them to cool on paper towels.
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, and chile powder until the sugar is dissolved.
Using your hands, crumble up the crispy rice cakes into different sizes into a bowl. Add the cilantro, mint, scallions, shallots, and ginger.
Take a bit of the frying oil and heat it up in a separate skillet, then fry 4 eggs sunny-side-up style.
Toss the salad with the dressing, divide the salad among four plates, and top each plate with a sunny-side-up egg. Garnish with the fried peanuts and chiles.
Tip: For homemade Thai chile powder, buy dried Thai chiles (available at Thai markets) or dried serrano or árbol chiles (available at Mexican markets) and grind them up in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle until fine. It lasts indefinitely in a sealed container at room temp.
*If you’re making fresh rice for this recipe, DON’T rinse the rice before cooking; the starch is your friend and will help the rice cakes stick together.