Yum Gai

Spicy Chicken Salad


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Little Thai Cookbook

The Little Thai Cookbook

By Marshall Cavendish

Published 2014

  • About

Thai salads can be enjoyed as a starter or a full meal on its own. Like this spicy chicken salad, it can be protein-heavy, with tenderly grilled meat, or mild and light with refreshing slivers of fresh fruit. In this recipe, the chicken can be substituted with boiled or grilled prawns and squid.


  • 10 bird’s eye chillies, coarsely pounded
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) coconut cream
  • 250 g chicken breast meat, sliced
  • 6 stalks lemongrass, ends trimmed and finely sliced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
  • 50 g coriander leaves, finely sliced
  • 100 g mint leaves, finely sliced
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

Roasted Chilli Paste

  • 3 cups (750 ml) cooking oil
  • 280 g shallots, peeled
  • 280 g garlic, peeled
  • 280 g dried prawns, soaked to soften
  • 2.5-cm piece dried prawn paste (gapi), roasted and crumbled
  • 170 g dried chillies, seeded, soaked to soften, then cut into short lengths
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • 140 g chopped palm sugar or brown sugar
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fish sauce (nam pla)
  • 2 teaspoons salt


  • 3 red chillies, seeded and cut into strips
  • mint leaves


  1. Prepare the roasted chilli paste. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and stir-fry until golden brown. Remove and drain. Reheat the oil and add the dried prawns, prawn paste and dried chillies. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes. Remove the ingredients and let the oil cool.
  2. While the oil is cooling, mix the tamarind pulp with ¼ cup (60 ml) water. Strain the mixture to obtain tamarind juice. Discard any seeds or fibre.
  3. Combine the fried ingredients and palm or brown sugar in a blender and process. Add the fish sauce, tamarind juice, salt and cooled oil. Blend into a fine paste. Store the roasted chilli paste in an airtight jar and use as needed.
  4. In a blender, process the bird’s eye chillies, 2 tablespoons roasted chilli paste, fish sauce, palm or brown sugar, lemon or lime juice and coconut cream into a salty-sour dressing.
  5. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Add the chicken strip by strip to prevent them from sticking. Boil for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Remove and drain.
  6. Mix the chicken with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coriander leaves, mint and tomatoes. Add the dressing and mix well. Garnish with chillies and mint leaves. Serve as part of a meal.