What Is Khao Chae, The Chilled Thai Summer Rice Perfect For A Refreshing Escape From The Heat?

Khao Chae embodies the resourcefulness of Thai cuisine.

by Nikitha Sebastian
What Is Khao Chae, The Chilled Thai Summer Rice Perfect For A Refreshing Escape From The Heat?

As the summer sun beats down on Thailand, a cool and comforting dish takes centre stage: Khao Chae, or “chilled Thai summer rice.” This vibrant salad-rice combination is a delightful explosion of textures and flavours, offering a refreshing escape from the heat.

A Feast For The Eyes And The Palate


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Khao Chae isn’t actually served with hot rice. Instead, jasmine rice is cooked and cooled to room temperature, creating a base that’s both light and fluffy. This bed of rice is then adorned with a vibrant array of colourful ingredients.

Shredded green mango adds a delightful tartness, perfectly balanced by the sweetness of palm sugar. Shallots and red chillies provide a touch of heat, while boiled eggs offer a contrasting richness. Shrimp or dried, shredded seafood like krill (known as kapi) add a savoury depth, and leafy greens like pea shoots or mint contribute a refreshing crunch.

The crowning glory of Khao Chae is its fragrant coconut cream dressing. Unlike a heavy curry, this dressing is light and flavorful, infused with the essence of toasted coconut and aromatics like galangal and lemongrass. A squeeze of fresh lime juice adds a touch of acidity, bringing all the elements together in perfect harmony.

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A Celebration Of Thai Summer


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The beauty of Khao Chae lies not only in its taste but also in its visual presentation. Tradition dictates serving this dish in a beautiful ceramic container. Each component is then meticulously arranged within the container, creating a feast for the eyes.

The white rice forms the base, followed by the vibrant green mango, glistening red chillies, and pops of yellow from the boiled egg and shrimp. A generous drizzle of the fragrant coconut cream dressing is then spooned over the dish, creating a truly captivating display.

Khao Chae is more than just a delicious dish; it’s a cultural experience. It embodies the resourcefulness of Thai cuisine, using seasonal ingredients to create a meal that’s both refreshing and satisfying. The vibrant colours and unique flavours are a celebration of Thai summer, offering a welcome respite from the heat.

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So, next time you find yourself in Thailand during the warmer months, seek out a plate of Khao Chae. It’s a guaranteed escape for your taste buds and a journey into the heart of Thai culinary tradition.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva

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