This Thai style Cobb salad recipe is inspired by Thai chef Ian Kittichai’s Khao Yam Bangkok recipe for a ‘Bangkok Cobb salad’, which he serves at his beautiful restaurant, Issaya Siamese Club, in the Thai capital. My version is essentially a Thai inspired take on the American Cobb salad rather than my take on khao yam.
Our Thai style cobb salad recipe makes a fusion of the classic American Cobb salad and the wonderful Southern Thai salad khao yam and it’s one of my best summer salad recipes. It’s inspired by one of my favourite Thai food recipes, a delicious salad by Thai chef Ian Kittichai, which he calls Khao Yam Bangkok and translates to Bangkok Cobb Salad in his Issaya Siamese Club restaurant cookbook*.
Chef Ian Kittichai’s Khao Yam Bangkok is essentially his take on a Southern Thai khao yam that he presents in the style of an American Cobb salad at his enchanting restaurant, Issaya Siamese Club, set in a splendid historic mansion in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok.
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Thai Style Cobb Salad Recipe Inspired by Chef Ian Kittichai’s Khao Yam Bangkok
My Thai style cobb salad recipe will make you a salad that’s a cross between the Thai salad khao yam and the American Cobb salad. My salad is inspired by chef Ian Kittichai’s fantastic Khao Yam Bangkok, which he serves at Issaya Siamese Club restaurant, and translates as Bangkok Cobb Salad in his restaurant cookbook.
While that might seem strange, it’s actually a perfect combo. The classic Cobb salad is essentially a chopped salad of tomato, lettuces, endives, watercress, fried chicken breast, boiled eggs, crispy bacon, avocado, blue cheese, chives, and a vinaigrette – although these days there are an infinite array of variations.
What distinguished the Cobb salad is that it’s served to guests on a plate with its chopped ingredients lined up in neat rows, the contrasting colours making it striking to look at. The ingredients are then dressed with a red wine vinaigrette before being tossed together at the table.
A Southern Thai khao yam has that in common. Essentially, it’s a tossed rice salad – khao is rice and a yam or yum is a tossed salad – traditionally served on a plate with the rice and other ingredients presented attractively in mounds. Like the Cobb salad, the ingredients are dressed and mixed together at the table.
While Thai khao yam ingredients can vary from city to city, town to town, village to village, and home to home, along with jasmine rice khao yams typically feature quintessential Thai ingredients such as lemongrass, long beans, coriander, coconut, chillies, fresh shallots, and crunchy fried shallots.
My Thai style Cobb salad recipe calls for some of these Southeast Asian ingredients but also incorporates an essential Cobb salad ingredient, the tomato, and – as the original Cobb salad was said to be a ‘clean-out-the-fridge’ salad, it includes ingredients I always have in the veggie drawer such as cabbage and corn.
One element that is ever-present in a khao yam is the sweet and sour tamarind-based sauce called nam budu. Although the contents of nam budu can vary, the original Southern Thai-style nam budu was made with tamarind pulp and fermented fish paste and is incredibly funky with loads of umami.
Ian Kittichai’s dressing, while still full of flavour is a lighter dressing, and is particularly lighter on the funk, using fish sauce instead of fish paste and tamarind juice instead of tamarind pulp. I’ve stuck with Ian’s dressing for my Thai style Cobb salad recipe (just varying the ratio of ingredients slightly) as the ingredients are more accessible than fermented fish paste outside Southeast Asia.
Just a few tips to making my Thai style Cobb salad recipe inspired by chef Ian Kittichai’s Khao Yam Bangkok or Bangkok Cobb Salad.
Tips to Making this Thai Style Cobb Salad Recipe
I only have a few tips to making this Thai style Cobb salad recipe, as it’s very easy to make and comes together quickly. Most of your time is going to be spent chopping ingredients.
I don’t provide rice cooking instructions in the recipe below, but I highly recommend using a rice cooker, which is the fastest and best way to steam rice and make it the day before or the morning of the day you’re going to make this Thai style Cobb salad recipe.
If you can’t help but steam the rice just before making the salad, then spread the rice out loosely on a tray and leav it on the kitchen counter to allow it to cool.
In the recipe, below, I give you options when it comes to the steamed jasmine rice. You could spread a thin layer of steamed jasmine rice onto the serving plate and then assemble the ingredients in rows on top of the rice.
When it comes to tossing the ingredients, you’re then going to have a tossed rice salad, which is essentially what khao yam as it always features rice, and sometimes two kinds of rice.
However, you could lean more towards a Cobb salad and skip the rice if you’re not a rice lover. Or, you could serve the jasmine rice in individual bowls on the side of the salad plates and let your guests decide if they want to combine the salad ingredients with the rice, or perhaps eat the salad on top of the rice.
My Thai style Cobb salad recipe also gives you options when it comes to the salad dressing. You could pour all the dressing onto the salad before tossing it or you could use half and serve the remainder of the dressing in a small jug on the side, and let guests help themselves. This is a good idea if you’re not sure whether they’re fish sauce lovers or not.
We will be publishing the results of our fish sauce tasting of the top quality fish sauces from Thailand and Vietnam that are distributed globally. Until then, we recommend Thailand’s Megachef for a quality fish sauce, as its sodium levels are always consistent.
I also recommend serving dishes of lime wedges and chilli flakes, as well as more roasted peanuts, crispy fried shallots, and mixed fresh herbs, so your guests can customise their salads to suit their taste.
* A quick note on Ian Kittichai’s Issaya Siamese Club restaurant cookbook, if you can’t find it on Amazon (there are very few copies on there), it is for sale at the restaurant but if you live abroad you can arrange to buy it via the Issaya Siamese club website.
Thai Style Cobb Salad Recipe
- 2 cups steamed jasmine rice
- 1 large cucumber - diced
- 12 cherry tomatoes - quartered
- 1 medium purple shallot - diced
- 1 dozen green beans - or two long beans
- ½ small purple cabbage - shredded
- 1 pomelo or grapefruit - finely chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass - white part only, finely sliced
- 200 g corn kernels
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander - (cilantro), leaves only
- 2 tbsp sawtooth coriander - roughly chopped
- 2 long red chillies - deseeded, sliced
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp - toasted
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut - toasted
- 2 tbsp crunchy fried shallots
- 2 tbsp crunchy fried garlic
- 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
- 1 piece lime - sliced into wedges
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp tamarind juice
- 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
- 1 tbsp Thai light soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- On a serving plate, spread a thin layer of steamed jasmine rice or serve the jasmine rice in bowls on the side.
- On the same serving plate, assemble the Cobb salad on top of the layer of rice by creating neat rows of each of the following ingredients: cucumber, cherry tomatoes, purple shallots, green beans, purple cabbage, pomelo or grapefruit, lemongrass, corn kernels, coriander,
- sawtooth coriander, red chillies, shredded coconut, fried shallots, crunchy fried garlic, and roasted peanuts.
- In a small mixing jug, make the salad dressing by combining the tamarind juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sugar well; taste and adjust as needed to please your palate, adding more sugar if too tart or too salty.
- Present to your guests on the serving plate, with the dressing in a small jug on the side, along with dishes of lime wedges and chilli flakes, and any additional condiments you think your guests might like, such as more roasted peanuts, crunchy fried shallots, or even a dish of mixed fresh herbs.
- Toss the salad with half the dressing at the table, serve to guests in individual salad bowls, then invite your guests to customise to their taste, adding more dressing, chilli flakes, lime juice, and any other condiments. If you’ve served the jasmine rice on the side, suggest that guests combine the salad with the rice.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make this Thai style Cobb salad recipe as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.