Nam Khao or Lao Crispy Rice (Aka “The Rice”)

By / Food / February 23rd, 2021 / 40

I remember mom prepping army-sized amounts for special gatherings; showing up to pot-lucks, birthdays, barbecues, reunions – you name it, it was there! Faces would light up the moment they realized she brought THE RICE!”. She would set up this HUGE mixing bowl on the floor of our kitchen; she would painstakingly grate at least 5 to 10 mature coconuts by hand. When I became old enough, I was bestowed the duty of grating coconut with much teenage protest. I finally understood the amount of effort (and back pain) that went into this dish.

The rice balls are broken up and served with sour fermented pork as a salad with greens. When eaten fresh, it’s warm and fragrant from the coconut and paste, while crispy in texture from the fried bits of rice, peanuts, cilantro, and scallion. Then you get hit with the aroma and flavour of the fish sauce which is brightened with the addition of fresh lime and chilli.

Serves 12

Rice Balls:

5 cups hot steamed Jasmine rice

1 bulb garlic (peeled and minced)

2 large shallot (minced)

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp paprika

1 cup coconut (fresh ground mature coconut)

1 cup crab meat (cooked and flaked)

3 tbsp. Thai Red Curry paste

Canola oil for frying


1 whole fresh lime (juiced)

2/3 cup peanuts (roasted and crushed)

2/3 cup cilantro stems and leaves (chopped)

2/3 cup scallion, (thin sliced)

2  pieces Thai Bird Chili (sliced, *chilis can also be fried for more roasted flavour)

2-3 tbsp fish sauce


Butter leaf lettuce

Green leaf lettuce

Romaine lettuce

Fresh mint

Purple Perilla (Shiso) leaf

Thai Bird chilis


Rice Balls

  1. Let the hot Jasmine rice cool for 15 minutes, once cool combine all the remaining ingredients together in a bowl and mix gently until evenly distributed.
  2. Roll the rice into large golf ball-sized rounds. Next heat the canola oil to 350F and add each ball one at a time deep-frying until completely golden brown in colour (4-5 minutes). Do not overcrowd the pot of oil. Remove rice balls with a slotted spoon and allow to drain on a tray lined with paper.
  3. While the rice balls are frying, prep the remaining seasoning ingredients into a large serving bowl except for the fish sauce. Take the crispy rice balls, and break apart into bite-sized pieces, adding them into the mixing bowl. Once all the rice balls have been broken apart, mix everything together. Mix in 2 Tbsp of Fish sauce to start and taste, add remaining tbsp if you prefer a stronger flavour. You can also adjust with more lime or sugar to your liking also!
  4. To plate, take a mound of the crispy rice and serve alongside the accompaniments. The rice is to be rolled into the lettuce leaves with the mint, perilla, and chilis.

Sour Pork

500 g lean pork cutlet (minced twice)

1 cup pork skin (finely shredded)

5  garlic cloves (crushed)

7 pieces Bird Chilis

2 tsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1/2 cup glutinous rice (cooked)

  1. Combine all ingredients together using very clean hands and knead the mixture for about 15 minutes, or until it forms a sticky dough. Pack and smoothen tightly into an airtight container, covering the surface closely with plastic wrap.  Seal the container and let stand at room temperature overnight.
  2. After 24 hours, refrigerate for 3 days to allow the pork to cure further.
  3. Once the curing process is complete, roughly chop the pork into bite-sized pieces and add to your crispy rice mixture
  4. Enjoy!

About Kimberley Vy : As a SAIT Alumni with a career spanning over 15 years, she is now the pastry chef at the Inn at Laurel Point in Victoria, B.C. Kim is inspired by those who tell stories and drives social change through food and art. Find Kimberley on Instagram: @keeemmm


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