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Nam tok mu (salad)

Posted in : Dinner, Salad on by : admin

Nam tok mu is a pork salad native to the Isan region of northwestern Thailand. There are of course many different recipes to be found, but most of them will agree that a proper nam tok mu should include grilled pork that is cut into thin pieces and flavored with sour, salty and spicy flavors.

Nam tok mu is traditionally served with sticky rice when it constitutes a main meal, but is today also served on its own or together with even more fresh greens, such as lettuce, cabbage and peas.

Ingredients for Nam tok mu (2 servings)

  • 3 tablespoons of uncooked plain long grain rice
  • 7 sun-dried Thai chili fruits, whole and with the seeds remaining
  • ½ pound of pork tenderloin
  • ¼ cup of water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 6 red shallots, peeled
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 lime for decoration
  • 4 sprigs of coriander or cilantro (stems removed, you just need the leaves)
  • 6 sprigs of spearmint (stems removed, you just need the leaves)


  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. (No oil, water or other liquid should be added.) Place the uncooked rice in the pan and stir it constantly until the rice has turned golden brown. This will usually take about 5 minutes.
  2. Leave the rice to cool. When it has cooled off, grind it to a rough and chunky powder using a mortar and pestle. Using an electrical tool instead is convenient, but also a bit risky since it is easy to accidentally grind the rice too fine.
  3. Heat up the big frying pan again and gently fry the sun-dried Thai chilies. Remove them from the heat when you can smell them cooking; you don’t want to burn them.
  4. Set 4 of the chilies aside for later (they will be used to garnish the dish). Turn the other 3 chilies into a rough and chunky powder by grounding them using a mortar and pestle.
  5. Grill the pork until it is rare to medium. You don’t have to worry about eating rare pork because the pork will be cooked again in this recipe before it is served. Overdoing it now at this stage will just result in overly dry pork.Ideally, grill the pork over wood coals. This is the traditional way of preparing this dish. If this isn’t feasible, use a kitchen grill or grill pan.
  6. Leave the pork to cool completely before you slice it into thin strips.
  7. Heat ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. When it boils, add fish sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, the sliced pork and the ground chili. Stir around and let it get hot again.
  8. When the sauce is hot, stir in the ground rice. Important: Set some of the ground rice aside for later, because you will need it to decorate the salad.
  9. Remove from heat. Leave to cool down a bit and thicken.
  10. When thickened, the sauce should ideally be of the same consistency as thick salad dressing. If it is too thick, add some more water.
  11. Slice shallots and spring onions.
  12. Check the sauce to make sure it is almost cold before you add shallots, spring onions, cilantro / cilantro and spearmint. Important: Save a little of each of these and set aside, because they will look good as decoration on the dish.
  13. Stir to mix the salad, but be gentle. You don’t want it to go mushy.
  14. Divide the salad and place on two plates. Decorate with shallots, spring onions, cilantro / cilantro and spearmint. Sprinkle ground rice on top and add the four chili fruits.
  15. Cut the lime into wedges. Use two wedges to squeeze lime juice around each serving of salad. Add the rest of the wedges as decoration.