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Crunchy, spicy, sour, and bright, the Naem Khao at Thip Khao in Washington, DC, is everything I want to eat forever and ever. The Laotian salad is traditionally made by forming rice seasoned with red curry paste into pucks that are deep-fried until golden brown. The fried pucks are then broken apart and mixed with sour pork sausage, shredded pork skin, lots of herbs, shallots, and a fish sauce dressing.

This weeknight version skips the deep-frying but keeps a similar balance of flavors and textures. In this approach, cooked rice gets crisped in a skillet until golden brown and crunchy and then broken apart and used as the base for the salad. Ground chicken cooked with store-bought curry paste adds depth, while thinly sliced onion, herbs, and a sweet-sour-salty dressing keep things bright. The thin shreds of ginger are a revelation: When soaked in ice water, they become mellow and extra crunchy, less of an accent and more a vegetable in their own right. I highly recommend using cocktail peanuts, which have the utmost roasty flavor with oily, salty skins. —Shilpa Uskokovic

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4 servings


medium red onion, thinly sliced


3″ piece ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks


cups cooled cooked jasmine rice


4-oz. can or jar Thai red curry paste (preferably Maesri), divided


Tbsp. fresh lime juice


Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. fish sauce


Tbsp. plus 1½ tsp. sugar


Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided


lb. ground chicken

Kosher salt


small serrano chile, thinly sliced


cup salted dry-roasted peanuts


cup (packed) cilantro leaves


cup (packed) mint leaves

Lettuce leaves and lime wedges (for serving)