thai-style coconut rice salad with scallions, peanut, and black sesame

One of my favorite cuisines is Thai. I cannot get enough of the vibrant ingredient combinations, which tend to include garlic, ginger, coconut, peanut, and lime. In this recipe, I combine rice cooked in coconut milk with many of these traditional Thai ingredients and a peanut dressing. This fresh and filling salad has lots of texture and flavor, and is finished with toasted black sesame seeds that I found in our local Asian supermarket. My husband and I enjoyed it with a cold, hoppy beer. 


  • Jasmine or basmati white rice (3/4 cup, dried)

  • Coconut milk (1 14-ounce can)

  • Lime juice (2 teaspoons total; 1 teaspoon for rice, plus 1 teaspoon for chicken marinade)

  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 large breasts, cut into thin strips)

  • Peanut oil (1 tablespoon for marinade plus 1 teaspoon for dressing)

  • Fresh ginger (1 teaspoon total, finely minced; 1/2 teaspoon for marinade plus 1/2 teaspoon for dressing)

  • Fresh garlic (1 teaspoon total, finely minced; 1/2 teaspoon for marinade plus 1/2 teaspoon for dressing)

  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)

  • Green cabbage (1 small head)

  • Scallions (2 large bunches)

  • Bell pepper (2 large; red or orange in color)

  • Peanuts (1/2 cup; finely chopped)

  • Toasted black sesame seeds (1 tablespoon; can be found in Asian supermarkets but you can substitute regular sesame seeds)

  • Peanut butter (1 tablespoon)

  • Rice vinegar (1 teaspoon)

  • Soy sauce (1 teaspoon)

  • Honey (1 teaspoon)


  1. Combine the dried rice, coconut milk, and 1 teaspoon of lime juice in a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium heat until the rice mixture is lightly boiling, then cover and reduce the heat to low.

  2. Cook the rice covered for 20 to 25 minutes, or until almost all the coconut milk has been absorbed.

  3. Remove the rice from heat and fluff with a fork. Transfer to a plate to cool. 

  4. While the rice is cooling, prepare the other components of the dish. In a medium mixing bowl, toss the strips of raw chicken with 1 tablespoon of peanut oil, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh garlic, 1 teaspoon of lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Ensure all the chicken pieces are evenly coated in the marinade.

  5. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for about 5 minutes, until all the chicken pieces are cooked through. Use a wooden spoon to stir during cooking to ensure even cooking.

  6. Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet to a plate to cool.

  7. On a cutting board, slice the cabbage head in half and then slice each half into very thin strips. Add the cabbage to a large mixing bowl.

  8. Chop the scallions, including green and white parts, into thin pieces and add to the mixing bowl.

  9. Slice the bell peppers into very thin strips and add to the mixing bowl. 

  10. Add the chicken and coconut rice, once cooled, and toss the salad ingredients together until evenly mixed.

  11. Add half the chopped peanuts and 1 tablespoon of black sesame seeds to the salad and toss.

  12. In a separate small bowl, prepare the dressing. Whisk peanut butter, 1/2 teaspoon of ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic, rice vinegar, soy sauce and honey until smooth. Thin the dressing with a water if it is too thick. Taste to ensure proper seasoning and balance; add salt or extra lime juice for acidity if needed.

  13. Add the dressing to the salad and toss.

  14. To serve, transfer to a large serving platter and garnish with remaining chopped peanuts, extra black sesame seeds, and Sriracha hot sauce if desired.