Nasi Ulam. Malaysian Herb Scented Rice Salad

Nasi Ulam is a type of Malaysian rice salad made with a variety of fresh herbs and an Asian dimension that comes from toasted coconut and coconut oil. It’s fresh tasting, filling, and easy to make. An added allure is a lovely basket of fresh picked herbs. Perfect to make ahead and take to a party or for a barbecue in the garden, give this beautiful summer herb-inspired rice salad a try!




 “Every summer, I revisit this refreshing Malaysian salad called nasi ulam. It’s what I call an elastic classic, very flexible so feel free to tinker with the recipe to create your own twists. The salad tastes good up to 5 hours after you’ve combined all the ingredients, so it’s a nice party or potluck dish.  If you can find specialty herb such as Thai basil or lemon basil give them a try. ”  Andrea Nguyen from Cooking Light Magazine

This is a great recipe to get creative with, I didn’t add the fish sauce as the recipe suggested, as honestly it didn’t need it all!  I did add a few extra ingredients like ginger and green chili for an extra kick of flavor. But seriosuly, between all those wonderful fresh herbs, the toasted coconut, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, and chili, the objective here is to aim for a balance of all these flavors. 



Malaysian Herb Scented Rice Salad
Herb Scented Rice Salad from Cooking Light Magazine by chef Andrea Nguyen
with a few additions


  • 1/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed basil leaves finely cut
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves finely cut
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp very thinly sliced or minced lemongrass from 1 stalk (if you have)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 small shallot or red onion finely sliced and set aside with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 – 2 green chili for some heat. Remove seeds if you want to keep it mild.
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1 cup Jasmine rice or Basmati rice.


  • Cook rice according to package directions.  Place the cooked rice in a shallow bowl to cool. To the warm rice add salt and pepper, sugar and 1 tbsp coconut oil and toss the rice together. Set aside.


  • Place the onions in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon juice. Let it marinate while you prep the other ingredients.
  • In a mini food processor grind together garlic, ginger and green chili into a crumbly pesto like texture.


  • Place the coconut and 1 tbsp coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring often until coconut begins to brown and is lightly toasted, about 3-5  minutes. Remove from heat and add the ginger garlic chili pesto. Let it cool.



  • Next combine the cooled rice with the coconut mixture, onions, and all the fresh herbs. Add the remainder of lemon juice.  Mix everything together.


  • Wait 5 minutes for all the flavors to meld together.  Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.


  • Serve at room temperature with garnish of fresh herbs.




Herb Scented Rice Salad from Cooking Light Magazine by chef Andrea Nguyen



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