This fresh herb salad recipe makes a big fragrant bowl of Yum Chee from 100 Mahaseth Restaurant, Bangkok, and comes courtesy of owner-chef Chalee Kader. European in presentation, it’s distinctly Southeast Asian in its sweet and sour flavours and zestiness.

I’ve been hankering to make this fresh herb salad recipe since we first tasted it at chef Chalee Kader’s 100 Mahaseth restaurant, a casual nose-to-tail eatery in Bangkok that is one of the Thai capital’s most sustainable restaurants.

Focused largely on food from Thailand’s Northeastern Isaan region, 100 Mahaseth was originally conceived as a pho joint after the chef and his partner fell in love with the Vietnamese soup while studying overseas. 100 Mahaseth’s menu features a hearty pho, and, um, a spicy hot dog, so this European style green salad made with Vietnam’s favourite herbs, dill and sawtooth coriander, isn’t out of place.

Despite the Southeast Asian ingredients, the bite of the birds-eye chillies, and the crushed peanuts and dried shrimp sprinkled on at the end, its European-ess comes from the lack of crunch and combination of textures typically associates with Thai salads such as som tam (the fiery Northeastern salad made with green papaya) and khao yam (a herb and rice salad from Southern Thailand with a gazillion ingredients).

Of course, dill and sawtooth coriander are used in northeastern Thai cooking, too, and the list of ingredients includes most of those you’d find in som tam, although just a tiny fraction of the chillies used in the fiery Isaan salad.

Fresh Herb Salad Recipe – Yum Chee from 100 Mahaseth Restaurant Bangkok

This fresh herb salad recipe makes a dish on the 100 Mahaseth menu called Yum Chee or ‘herb salad’ “because ‘chee’ (herb’ in Thai) is the one word that links all three herbs in the dish: Puck Chee is coriander, Puck Chee Lao is dill, Puck Chee Farang is Sawtooth coriander, and ‘Yum’ is basically ‘salad’, ha ha!” chef Chalee Kader explains. “Although ‘chee’ also means ‘nun’…”

“The salad doesn’t exist in Thai cuisine. We made it up,” the chef adds. “We have an abundance of herbs and greens (in Thai cooking), but we hardly make them into a salad,” Chalee said. “Nor do we have a sauce that actually uses any of these herbs, like a pesto or a chimichurri.”

While I adore the freshness thanks to all those fragrant green herbs, the chef says some diners think it’s too herbaceous – “but we love it,” he says. I love it, too. As you would have surmised had you seen me polish off the whole plate after Terence photographed it this afternoon. I’ve been sick and it looked healthy. That’s my excuse, anyway.

This salad could feed two people as a side salad or four people if served as part of a Southeast Asian family-style spread, but, yes, it can also feed one very hungry person and would be enough for a meal.

Note that if you don’t want a spicy salad, you could reduce the birds-eye chillies to just one, and if you’re not a fan of chilli, you could simply leave them out. There were also cherry tomatoes in the salad when we first sampled it at 100 Mahaseth. The chef says you can also make a garnish by lightly pounding the tomato quarters with crushed peanuts and dried shrimp and throwing that all on at the end.

There’s loads of flavour that comes from the dressing, which gives the salad the sweet, sour and funky flavours we love in Southeast Asian cuisine. If it’s too sweet for you, just add a little more tamarind and/or fish sauce.

You will probably have some dressing left over, so just pop it in a jar and refrigerate it, as I guarantee you that you’ll be making another batch of Yum Chee sooner rather than later.

Fresh Herb Salad Recipe – Yum Chee from 100 Mahaseth Restaurant Bangkok

Fresh Herb Salad Recipe – Yum Chee from 100 Mahaseth Restaurant Bangkok
Cuisine: Thai
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: serves 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Salad Dressing
  • Palm sugar 125 gm
  • Tamarind liquid 60 gm
  • Fish sauce 60 gm
  • Lime juice 25 gm
  • 1-2 birds-eye chillies (optional)
  • Long beans 8 pieces
  • Fresh dill 20gm
  • Fresh coriander leaves 20gm
  • Fresh saw-tooth coriander leaves 20gm
  • Fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon
  • Roasted peanuts, crushed, 1 tablespoon
  • Dried shrimp, crushed, 1 tablespoon
  1. Prepare some tamarind liquid first: break a couple of pieces of tamarind off a block of tamarind pulp, pop them in a bowl, pouring boiling water over the tamarind, and leave it to soak for 20 minutes. Strain with a sieve and set the liquid aside.
  2. To make the dressing, stir the tamarind liquid, palm sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a sauce pan over low heat until the palm sugar has completely dissolved, then set aside to cool.
  3. Chop the long beans into lengths of around 5cm each, then in a mortar and pestle lightly smash the beans to get that strong green flavour into the dish. If you’re using chillies, pound one or two fresh birds-eye chillies with the beans.
  4. Throw the beans and chillies into a large bowl and add the dressing, then the dill, coriander, and sawtooth leaves, and mix so the dressing covers all the leaves.
  5. Heap the salad onto the plate, then splash a teaspoon of fresh lime juice on top, then sprinkle on a tablespoon of crushed peanuts and half a table spoon of crushed dried shrimp and serve.

Do let us know if you make this fresh herb salad recipe in the comments below. We’d love to hear how it turned out for you.

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