Thai Bean Sprout Salad with Coconut (Yam Tua Nork)

thai_sproutspAs a regular coconut milk consumer I would never dream of using it in a salad. Creamy cold desserts, custard cakes, curries are the only ways I would use coconut milk until I saw this recipe in David Thompson’s “Thai Food”. Since I often don’t use the whole can and the contents don’t keep forever after opening, I was thrilled to discover this original and quick salad.

I must say that as much as I love all the ingredients, I was a bit sceptical about the final result, but I needn’t have worried: this quick side-dish proved as fabulous as all the previous recipes I found in David Thompson’s huge collection of Thai recipes. It is crunchy, creamy, slightly smokey and nutty.  Since mung bean sprouts are irritatingly perishable, I was also glad to discover a completely new way to eat them. I would probably get scolded by the very demanding author for using here coconut milk instead of the cream (I have used more of the milk). I have allowed myself also to change slightly the ingredients’ ratios, to adapt the salad to one serving and I have changed the vinegar (see below). To see the original salad, check David Thompson’s book.

Check here some other recipes including coconut milk.

TIPS: The dressing can be prepared in advance, but combine it with the sprouts just before serving to make sure they don’t wilt and don’t get soggy.

You can cut the sprouts in two to make the eating process easier.

Preparation: about 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves one as a side dish):

1 cup (about 250 ml) bean sprouts

3 tablespoons coconut cream (I have used coconut milk)

1 tablespoon vinegar (coconut vinegar is apparently used most often in Thai cuisine and it’s easily available for example in my Thai grocery shop; the author advises white vinegar diluted with water and personally I have used rice vinegar here)


2 tablespoons grated coconut

2 tablespoons peanuts (unsalted, shelled)

1/4 teaspoon salt 

1 small Asian shallot or a very small Western one, finely sliced

1 tablespoon chopped or torn coriander leaves

First prepare the paste.

Roast the coconut and the peanuts in a dry pan.

Pound them with salt in a mortar (I have mixed in a baby food mixer).

Combine the paste, the vinegar and the coconut cream with bean sprouts, adjust the flavours (the author says it should taste smoky, rich, sour and salty) and sprinkle with shallots and coriander leaves.


18 Replies to “Thai Bean Sprout Salad with Coconut (Yam Tua Nork)”

  1. I agree that finding a new way to use up those perishable bean sprouts is a ‘good thing’. I’m even tempted to sprout my own mung beans on occasion.

    1. Thank you, A_Boleyn. I find bean sprout packages sold here really very big… much too big for a meal for two and since they perish so quickly, I often throw away a part of the package. It’s really a pity.

  2. Oh my, what a lovely little recipe. This would be an original application of coconut milk for me as well but I am fully open to it :). Does the cookbook author make his own coconut cream? (just curious, a blogging friend posted a lovely coconut cream recipe on her site the other day) — like you maybe, I tend to have the milk around and would likely just use that (scolding or not, heeheeh). I know precisely what you mean about the short life of sprouts 🙁 and they’re so expensive too! This salad sounds full of delicious flavors Sissi; I will have to give it a try.

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. The author does talk a lot about the superiority of freshly made coconut milk/cream, but I don’t think I will ever do it… Finding fresh coconut here is not always obvious. Secondly, I found out that fresh coconuts in Europe are sometimes rancid and it’s impossible to know before buying… Last but not least, it’s not easy to make your own coconut milk (and it takes time too). Some Thai cuisine lovers make curries with coconut milk only during the weekend, so that they have enough time to prepare coconut milk before. By the way, have you noticed that many coconut milk cans contain a weird additive? I have noticed that they “curdle” in curries and are impossible to use in my custardy desserts! Now I buy only cans where coconut and water are the only ingredients mentioned.
      Here bean sprouts are very cheap and organic only, I can buy them 1 min from my house, but I still hate throwing them away…

  3. What an interesting salad! Like you, I would never have thought of coconut dressing. I’ve used toasted coconut flakes in a salad before, but never in the dressing and especially, never as the base of the dressing. Of course being a coconut lover, I can already taste the nutty coconut dressing. I can see this dressing being used on other types of salads as well, but I do love the simplicity of just the sprouts. Another great salad for my summer salads list. Thanks Sissi! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks a lot, MJ. One lives and learns! When I think of all these half-cans of coconut milk I threw out…

  4. I just read about David Thompson on another blog (Orgasmic Chef / Maureen)! I wouldn’t think of salad either, but now that I know he’s a great chef I’m curious to try how the salad tastes like! I haven’t had proper Thai food for more than a month. I think I’m going to go crazy if I don’t eat some soon. Your salad makes me so hungry! Love the bean sprout salad. Sounds very refreshing!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. David Thompson’s book is a real gem. It makes one open eyes to the real Thai cuisine.

  5. Sounds pretty interesting! And I love your bowl! Made in Japan? You really have a great taste! I would like to borrow it someday, just kidding! Thanks for the link, it looks like a good read.

    1. Hi, Nipponnin. Thank you so much for the compliments. Yes! You have guessed (100 yen shop 😉 : the place where I fill half of my luggage). You mean the Japanese bowl producers have a good taste 😉 I love Japanese pottery, even the cheapest items…

  6. Thanks for a really recipe Sissi – I’ve been experimenting more with coconut milk lately, and this recipe would be nice to have on hand if I don’t use the whole can. I agree about the flavor from the kind that is pure – MUCH better!

    1. Thanks a lot, Donalyn. I have the impression that the emulsifiers are more and more popular in coconut milk. Several years ago I never saw them among the ingredients and now they are everywhere.

  7. I was toying with the idea to use coconut milk/cream as a Asian salad dressing but I wasn’t sure how. Sissi, thanks for sharing your experience I feel motivated to give it a go once I am back to Goa. =)

  8. My husband absolutely loves coconut! I like it but I am not as crazy as he is! I think this salad would be the perfect light meal for him!

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