Thai Coconut Rice Salad with Cashew Nuts

This Thai Coconut Rice Salad Recipe has been adapted over the years to the one we love the best. It is sensational, even if I do say so myself.

Thai Coconut Rice Salad Recipe

The salad started out as a way to use red cabbage from the allotment for something other than coleslaw and braised red cabbage. It became our staple diet for most of last summer. Authentically Thai? Probably not. But totally delicious nevertheless.

I love it made with brown rice. Admittedly I'm totally hooked on brown rice having discovered it rather late. For my entire life I've eaten white and thought brown rice was for hardcore health freaks. Well that I am not, but I decided to make it this Spring to see what it's like. We now eat it constantly.

The list of ingredients makes it look like a difficult time consuming thing. It isn't, there are just a few more ingredients than usual which make it very pretty with all the veg in the salad. It is well worth the effort. This recipe serves 2-3 hungry people as a main salad with a piece of chicken, or with cooked chicken mixed into it (which is really yummy).

Otherwise serves 4 as a side salad with other things. It keeps happily in the fridge, though you may want to bring it to room temperature before serving so that the coconut milk in the dressing softens a bit.

Thai Coconut Rice Salad Recipe


For the Coconut Garlic Rice:
  • 3/4 cup of brown basmati rice, washed (you can substitute white jasmine if you really must)
  • 1/2 a 15 oz can of coconut milk, shaken well before you halve it
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
For the Salad:
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 chunky slice of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 carrot, peeled and julienned with a potato peeler
  • 1 red spring onion (green if you can't get red), chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup cashew nuts, some roughly chopped, some left whole
  • a couple of lemon balm leaves, finely chopped (optional but wonderful if you have them - I think these add a gorgeous lemongrass-like element to the salad)
  • Handful of pea shoots (see here for how to grow peashoots all year round)
For the Dressing:
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (more if you love it, but too much makes it dominate everything else)

+ 1 x casserole dish with tight fitting lid.


Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Rinse the brown rice until the water runs clear, put it in the casserole dish. Put the coconut milk, garlic, salt and water in a saucepan. Bring just to the boil, pour over the rice in the dish, put the lid on. Put the dish in the oven for 45 minutes.

The smell of the coconut garlic rice cooking will blow your mind.

Meanwhile, mix the dressing ingredients together. If the dressing seems a bit thick, either microwave it for a couple of seconds to loosen the peanut butter or add a small amount of water (or both). Sometimes I need to do this, sometimes I don't. I think it depends on the peanut butter, the air temperature, or just how the dressing is feeling. Ok, probably not the last one.

You then remove the dish from the oven, fluff the rice up with a fork and try a bit to ensure the brown rice is cooked. It will be slightly chewier than white rice, it's supposed to be like that. If the rice feels a bit too firm for you, pop a splash of boiling water into the casserole, stir it up, replace the lid and put it back in the oven to steam for another 15 minutes.

When you feel happy with the rice, you can mix in the chopped veg (keeping back a bit of coriander for decoration), the chopped cashews (keeping back some of the whole ones) and the frozen peas. Your peas are fine if they're still frozen when you add them to the rice; they won't be frozen for long.

Mix in some of the dressing, tasting all the while to make sure you're happy with it. You may not need it all.

If people are serving themselves you may want to transfer the salad to serving dish as the brown rice does tend to leave a line around the edge from when it's cooking. I try to mix in as much of that to the salad as I can because it's yummy.

Service sprinkled with the reserved coriander and cashew nuts.

If you’d like to add meat, toss in some shredded cooked chicken for a lovely, summery one dish meal.

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