This popular Laotian salad recipe requires an extensive list of ingredients and a bit of preparation, including four days marinating time, but the results are well worth the effort. You can shape and crumb the rice balls a day ahead and deep-fry them just before serving. This recipe serves 10 as an appetiser, or 6 as an entree.






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (302 votes)


  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced  
  • 1 tsp white sugar 
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • pinch of salt
  • 65 g (½ cup) crushed roasted peanuts, plus 70 g (½ cup) roasted whole peanuts
  • ½ cup thinly sliced spring onions
  • ½ cup coriander leaves
  • butter lettuce cups or betel leaves (see Note) whole peanuts and deep-fried dried chillies, to serve

Som moo (sour pork)

  • 500 g lean pork, minced twice
  • 1 cup pork skin, finely shredded 
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ cup cooked sticky rice, washed

Red curry paste

  • 6 large dried chillies, soaked, drained, seeded and sliced
  • 1 kaffir lime, rind finely shredded, or 6 finely shredded kaffir lime leaves
  • 10 red Asian shallots
  • 1 small knob fresh galangal 
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika, optional

Nam khao (rice balls)

  • 740 g (4 cups) hot steamed jasmine rice
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1 cup shredded fresh coconut, soaked in warm water to cover, squeezed and juice reserved
  • 175 g (1 cup) cooked crabmeat, flaked
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • vegetable oil, for deep-frying

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


You will need to begin this recipe 4 days ahead.

To make the som moo, combine all ingredients and using very clean hands, knead mixture for about 15 minutes, or until it forms a sticky dough. Pack tightly in an airtight container, cover closely with plastic wrap, then seal and stand at room temperature overnight. From the following day, refrigerate for 3 days to allow the pork to cure.

To make the red curry paste, use a mortar and pestle to pound all ingredients until a paste forms.

To make the rice balls, season the hot jasmine rice with the salt and cool for 15 minutes. Combine the rice, red curry paste, squeezed coconut, crabmeat, fish sauce, sugar and 1 egg. Gently mix through, then roll mixture into large golf ball-sized round.

Combine cornflour and reserved coconut juice. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 2 eggs. 

One-third fill a deep-fryer or wok with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C. Dip the rolled rice balls into the cornflour mixture and then the beaten egg. Deep-fry in batches for 3–4 minutes, or until golden and crunchy. Drain on paper towel and cool for 15 minutes.

To make the salad, break sour pork into small pieces and place in a mixing bowl. Season with the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, lime leaves and a pinch of salt.  Break rice balls into mixture and toss through with peanuts, spring onions and coriander. Serve in lettuce cups or on betel leaves and scatter with whole peanuts and deep fried chillies.


• Betel leaves are leaves from the pepper tree and are available from Asian supermarkets.