My Take on Pa Yai's Yam Naem Khao Tod (ยำแหนมข้าวทอดป้าใหญ่)
Recipe type: Salad, Entree, Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup cold cooked long grain rice
  • 1 cup unsweetened fine, desiccated coconut (you'll find this at South Asian grocery stores)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (corn flour)
  • ¾ cup rice flour (you can get away with using all-purpose flour)
  • Cold water
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 8-12 ounces naem
  • Dried red pepper flakes (ground up into a fine powder, if necessary)
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Fish sauce
  • ¾ cup chopped green onions
  • ¾ cup cilantro leaves
  • Fresh vegetables and herbs to serve on the side: cabbage, lettuce, fresh ginger, cilantro, long (or green) beans, etc.
  1. Heat up vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Make sure the oil is at least 3 inches deep.
  2. While the oil is heating up, mix the first five ingredients together and form it into nice and compact 1.5-inch balls.
  3. In a separate bowl, make a batter by mixing the rice flour with enough cold water to make a thin batter that has the consistency of heavy cream (it should not be anywhere near as thick as pancake batter).
  4. Once the oil reaches 350 degrees F, dip the rice balls into the batter and gently drop them into the hot oil, one by one. Separate the rice balls with a spoon to keep them from sticking together. Once all the rice balls are in the hot oil, they should float to the surface in just a few seconds. At this point, you want to lower the heat so that the oil temperature is at 250-280 degrees F and stays there.
  5. Keep frying the rice balls, flipping them around to make sure they're evenly browned. You know the rice balls are fried adequately and crispy almost all the way through, the way Pa Yai likes them, when they stop spewing air bubbles (it takes about 20-30 minutes for me, but your mileage may vary). At this point, fish them out onto a paper towel-lined plate and let them cool down to room temperature.
  6. To make the salad, crumble up the naem in a large salad bowl. Add the cooled rice balls to the bowl and crumble them up with your hands. Season with fish sauce and lime juice to taste. I can't tell you exactly how much fish sauce and lime juice to use, because this depends on how salty and sour your naem is. It's best to have 3-4 juicy limes and at least ½ cup of fish sauce on hand. You probably won't need all of those, but you know you'll have enough.
  7. Once the salad tastes right to you, mix some dried red pepper powder into it. The amount corresponds with your heat tolerance. If you make this salad for people with different levels of heat tolerance, it's best to put in just a little and serve the salad with extra dried red pepper powder on the side for those who want more of it.
  8. Serve the salad with fresh vegetables to be consumed along with it.
1. Those who make your own coconut milk with freshly grated mature coconut meat, you can use the leftover coconut which has already been extracted in this recipe. That will give you a result closer to Pa Yai's. 2. Naem ("nem chua" in Viatnamese and "mu som" in Lao) can be found at most Asian grocery stores that cater to Thai, Laotian, and Vietnamese shoppers. It can be, and is usually, eaten raw. But if you can't stand the idea, you can crumble it up and saute it briefly in a pan prior to adding it to the salad. Keep in mind, though, that if you choose to go that route, your naem will lose some volume through loss of moisture. This means you probably need to double the amount of naem that the recipe calls for. 3. For a visual guide on how Pa Yai forms and deep-fries her rice balls, this YouTube video is very helpful. Focus on 0:13 to 2:00.
Recipe by SheSimmers at