Lao yum salad recipe

A freshly-made salad that glows and glistens with salubrious ingredients is possibly one of the healthiest and tastiest dishes that you can quickly put together to satiate your wondering appetite today. Salads are often easy to make (and eat) and can exist in as many incarnations as your imagination allows. From larb to tum mark hoong – Laotians really enjoy their salad dishes, which are made from fresh local ingredients and are often full of zip, zing and alakazam!

Another popular Lao salad dish is the milder counterpart called ‘yum salad’ which may be translated as ‘salad of lettuce’ or ‘salad of salad’.1

Lao yum salad is essentially a delicious mix of salad vegetables (and herbs), sliced cooked egg white, peanuts and a savoury, sweet and sour egg-yolk based dressing. All of the ingredients in the recipe work well together and each play an important role in the overall flavour and character of the dish.

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Lao yum salad recipe #22
A delicious medley of crispy, fresh vegetables and herbs, egg, peanuts, sweet, sour and savoury egg-yolk dressing and infused garlic, ginger, shallot oil and chips.

One of my favourite ingredients in the salad is the watercress which gives the salad a lovely peppery accent. If you can’t find watercress, you can recreate the piquant flavour with other peppery vegetables, for example, radish or rocket. The pepperiness of the watercress is balanced with the sweetness of the iceberg lettuce, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, the mildness of the hard-boiled egg white, the nuttiness of the peanuts, the crunchiness of the fried garlic chips, and the deliciousness of the zesty egg-yolk dressing.

This recipe is an adaptation of a yum salad recipe that I learnt from my sister many years ago. It’s one of dad’s favourite salad dishes and he prefers this over tum som. Dad’s also a huge fan of larb (preferably raw), although most Lao people (if not all) have an affinity with larb. Dad’s other favourite salad dish is a ‘warm’ watercress salad which is a bed of fresh watercress topped with steaming hot quickly seared, stir-fried sliced beef. It’s delicious and I’ll share a similar recipe for it on a later date.

Traditionally, yum salad is made from readily available ingredients. A lot of the ingredients normally used are what Lao cooks and households would be able to find growing in their own backyard garden or from the local fresh produce markets.2

In this recipe, the radicchio and radish are optional, although I do love the colour and flavour of both of these ingredients and recommend that you try them. Rocket, young celery tips, chicory, and curly endive also make good substitutes in the salad. If you have an allergy to peanuts, by all means omit it and the recipe will still work great. Although, I do think the peanuts enhance the salad really well with its delicious flavour and texture. Macadamia nuts would also make a rapturous alternative in this recipe!

Lao yum salad is a delicious, healthy, mild and easy to make salad that requires minimum fuss and ingredients. I hope you’ll give this recipe a try. It is perfect to have as a light ‘treat my body as a temple’ meal (in which case, do be extra sparing of the infused garlic oil and chips) or to be enjoyed as part of a main meal. The combination of the fresh ingredients and the delicious dressing make this Lao yum salad totally yummy (couldn’t help myself), and a joy to eat and share. Sern saab everybody! :)

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Lao yum salad recipe #1
Boil the eggs over medium heat until cooked.
Note: I boiled 6 eggs but used 4 in this recipe.

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Lao yum salad recipe #2
When the eggs are cooked, let them cool down and then peel and slice them in half length-ways. Remove egg yolk from 3 eggs and place in a mixing bowl. Slice the remaining egg white and other egg into segments and put aside.

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Lao yum salad recipe #3
To make the dressing, mash up the egg yolk in the mixing bowl with a fork. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and salt & pepper. Squeeze in the lime juice. Mix together well. Adjust the flavour to suit your palate. What you’re aiming for is a delicious blend of eggy, savoury, sweet, sour and a little zippy!

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Lao yum salad recipe #4
Treviso Radicchio
Love the look and taste of radicchio. It can be cooked or eaten raw. The colours and patterns are wonderful!

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Lao yum salad recipe #5
Coriander

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Lao yum salad recipe #6
Iceberg lettuce

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Lao yum salad recipe #7
Radish
Plump reddish globes. As cute as a radish or 10.

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Lao yum salad recipe #8
Lime
Hello lime!

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Lao yum salad recipe #9
Watercress
Watercress turns yellow quite quickly. I bought a few fresh green bunches yesterday (around noon) and kept them in the fridge in a plastic bag overnight until I used them today (around noon). Some of the leaves near the base of the stems had turned yellow and some were showing shades of green/yellow over night which I discarded. Fortunately, I bought a few bunches to spare. Because of the way and environment in which watercress grows, I find that the best way to wash and clean them properly is to fill a sink or large bowl with cold water and then soak/submerge the watercress in the water for about 5 mins. Then, individually pick up each watercress stem, and wash and remove/discard unwanted wilted/yellow leaves, tough stems, roots, etc. This is time-consuming but it’s a good way to clean and prepare the watercress properly.

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Lao yum salad recipe #10
Prepare the vegetables and herbs. Wash and cut the watercress into about 10 cm lengths. Remove discoloured leaves, tough stems or roots if necessary. Wash and cut the iceberg lettuce and radicchio into about 5 cm segments. Wash, peel and thinly slice the cucumber into discs. Wash and thinly slice the tomatoes into discs. Wash and thinly slice the radish into discs. Wash, discard the root and cut the coriander into about 5 cm lengths. Wash, discard the root and thinly slice the spring onion and Asian shallot into slivers.
Clockwise from top right: radish, Lebanese cucumber, Roma tomato, egg white, spring onion, coriander, Asian shallot (center).
Oops – I can see a fine light hair on the top left corner of the plate first. Sorry folks for the oversight – old age is imminent.

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Lao yum salad recipe #11
On two large serving plates, neatly arrange the iceberg lettuce and radicchio.
Note: With this recipe, I made two large serving plates of the yum salad, not just one as pictured.

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Lao yum salad recipe #12
Neatly arrange the watercress on top.

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Lao yum salad recipe #13
Then, neatly arrange the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, radish, egg, spring onion, Asian shallot and coriander on top.

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Lao yum salad recipe #14

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Lao yum salad recipe #15

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Lao yum salad recipe #16

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Lao yum salad recipe #17

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Lao yum salad recipe #18

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Lao yum salad recipe #19
Give the salad dressing a stir and then drizzle it all over the salad.

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Lao yum salad recipe #20
Randomly sprinkle the peanuts on top.

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Lao yum salad recipe #21
Finally, drizzle the garlic, ginger, shallot oil (including the fried chips) all over the salad. Serve the salad immediately with chopsticks or cutlery.
Note: The recipe for the garlic, ginger, shallot oil is here.

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Lao yum salad recipe #23
Mix the salad and dressing together before eating. This yum salad is delicious as a healthy light meal or served to complement a main meal. Sern saab! :)

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Lao yum salad recipe #24

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Lao yum salad recipe #25

Lao yum salad recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A delicious medley of crispy, fresh vegetables and herbs, egg, peanuts, sweet, sour and savoury egg-yolk dressing and infused garlic, ginger, shallot oil and chips.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Lao
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 eggs (hard boiled)
  • 1 bunch of watercress
  • ½ head of iceberg lettuce
  • ½ head of radicchio
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 2 radishes
  • 1 coriander
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 Asian shallot
  • ½ cup of peanuts
  • 1 Tablespoon of garlic, ginger, shallot oil (including fried chips)
  • Dressing:
  • 1 Tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar
  • 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the eggs over medium heat until cooked.
  2. When the eggs are cooked, let them cool down and then peel and slice them in half length-ways. Remove egg yolk from 3 eggs and place in a mixing bowl. Slice the remaining egg white and other egg into segments and put aside.
  3. To make the dressing, mash up the egg yolk in the mixing bowl with a fork. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and salt & pepper. Squeeze in the lime juice. Mix together well. Adjust the flavour to suit your palate. What you’re aiming for is a delicious blend of eggy, savoury, sweet, sour and a little zippy!
  4. Prepare the vegetables and herbs. Wash and cut the watercress into about 10 cm lengths. Remove discoloured leaves, tough stems or roots if necessary. Wash and cut the iceberg lettuce and radicchio into about 5 cm segments. Wash, peel and thinly slice the cucumber into discs. Wash and thinly slice the tomatoes into discs. Wash and thinly slice the radish into discs. Wash, discard the root and cut the coriander into about 5 cm lengths. Wash, discard the root and thinly slice the spring onion and Asian shallot.
  5. On two large serving plates, neatly arrange the iceberg lettuce and radicchio. Neatly arrange the watercress on top.
  6. Then, neatly arrange the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, radish, egg, spring onion, Asian shallot and coriander on top.
  7. Give the salad dressing a stir and then drizzle it all over the salad.
  8. Randomly sprinkle the peanuts on top.
  9. Finally, drizzle the garlic, ginger, shallot oil (including the fried chips) all over the salad. Serve the salad immediately with chopsticks or cutlery.
  10. Mix the salad and dressing together before eating. This yum salad is delicious as a healthy light meal or served to complement a main meal. Sern saab! :)
  1. In Lao, the word ‘yum’ means ‘salad’ or ‘ salad dish’, or ‘to make a salad dish’. And the word ‘salad’ or ‘salat’, or more specifically ‘puck salad’ or ‘puck salat’ (puck meaning ‘vegetable’) means ‘lettuce’. Thus, ‘yum salad’ or ‘yum salat’ or ‘yum puck salad’ or ‘yum puck salat’ translates to ‘salad of lettuce’. However, if you write ‘yum salad’, this can also mean ‘salad salad’ or ‘salad of salad’ (that is, ‘salad of yum’). I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to confuse you. I just wanted to share with you what I know about the meaning of the name of this recipe/salad dish. I don’t know what the history of the word ‘salad’, ‘salat’, ‘yum’ or ‘yam’ (alternative English spelling) is but I’m sure it’s interesting. If you know, please feel free to share it with us. Thanks in advance. []
  2. Watercress might be difficult for you to find. I finally found some for sale at a local specialty fruit and veg store and also at Asian greengrocers in Cabramatta, NSW. []

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Comments

    • 2

      says

      Hi Kevin,

      Thanks very much for your comment mate! I really appreciate it. The combination of texture, flavour and colour in this yum salad is quite wonderful and with all the fresh ‘living’ ingredients in it, we know that we’re doing our body good. We love it and it’s a delicious mild alternative to tum som salads. The egg yolk dressing is really simple and you can adjust it to suit. The lime gives it a delicious sharp zip. I think you guys will enjoy this salad. Please give it a try and let me know what you think. Thanks Kevin! Best wishes. :)

  1. 3

    says

    Oh – I so agree about your comment re: watercress yellowing quickly! When I really want to make sure they stay fresh and green, I wrap them loosely with a damp paper towel then put them in a plastic bag in the fridge. I love finding interesting salads, this is just brilliant! Asian salads are the BEST.

    • 4

      says

      Hi Nagi,

      Thanks for your comment. I know, it’s weird that watercress yellows so quickly. Perhaps, it’s because they grow in water and are so reliant on it to stay alive and also because their leaves are so thin and fragile? Love the damp paper towel storage tip! Thanks very much and I will try it next time. I love salads too. It’s kind of the new black for me atm. You must try this yum salad. I think you’ll like it a lot! The dressing, watercress and peanuts are what makes it special I think. Thanks Nagi. Best wishes. :)

    • 6

      says

      Hi Tandy,

      Thanks very much for your comment. I love the ingredients in this yum salad too and the egg yolk dressing really tops it off with a delicious sharp flavour. Please give it a try when you can and let me know what you think. Thanks Tandy. Have a great day! :)

    • 10

      says

      Hi Helen,

      Thanks for your comment. I love the colours of this salad too. That’s the good thing about making salads – you can add your favourite ingredients and make it look pretty and tasty. If you like cooked egg yolk, you’ll love the tangy, savoury dressing in this salad. Have a great weekend! :)

    • 12

      says

      Hi Jem,

      Thanks for your comment. This is a delicious and healthy salad that I recommend. The savoury/tangy egg yolk dressing cuts through the salad ingredients very well making the dish a joy to eat. I love watercress too, and other peppery/slightly bitter greens/veg. :)

    • 14

      says

      Hi Noony,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s a delicious and moreish salad and dressing isn’t it? It’s one of my favourites too. Bottling it – now that’s a great idea! Although I do wonder how well it would keep, and good it would taste compared to being freshly prepared? Food for thought. Thanks Noony. Best wishes! :)

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