King’s Salad Recipe

King's salad aka vua rau xà lách. Clockwise from top left: lá lốt aka chaplu; Cosmos caudatus; hành lá aka spring onion; sả chanh aka lemongrass; nghệ aka turmeric; chanh Thái aka kaffir lime. Turmeric flowers (left of onions)
King’s salad aka vua rau xà lách. Clockwise from top left: lá lốt, aka chaplu; vua rau xà lách, aka Cosmos caudatus; hành lá, aka spring onion; sả chanh aka lemongrass; nghệ, aka turmeric; chanh Thái, aka kaffir lime. Turmeric flowers (left of onions)

When cooking in a hot kitchen doesn’t appeal, there’s a flavour-filled alternative: king’s salad – Vietnamese style. Popular in Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, the only cooking this recipe requires is boiling some rice – the fresh ingredients can be picked from your garden. Variations include adding cooked shrimp, prawn or fish, but if this doesn’t appeal, vegans may choose to add tempeh. Whatever you decide, the complex, zesty flavour of king’s salad is delightful on its own. Use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner…

King’s salad gets its name from one ingredient: Cosmos caudatus, an edible, warm season annual with medicinal properties. You only need to purchase their seed once in your life – buy them on line – and once you’ve planted them their seed is easily saved.


500g boiled rice – cold;
50g spring onion, aka hành lá;
15 kaffir lime leaves, aka chanh Thái;
6 chaplu leaves, aka lá lốt;
1-2 tablespoonfuls sambal sauce;
1 stem lemongrass, aka cộng sả;
I stem turmeric, aka nghệ – use one small rhizome, one tender leaf – and flowers*, if available;
I Tahitian lime, aka chanh không hạt;
5 tender, leafy stems of king’s salad, aka vua rau xà lách (Cosmos caudatus);
20g desiccated coconut, aka dừa nạo sấy;
5g cracked black pepper, aka tiêu đen;
50g cooked shrimp, prawn, fish or diced tempeh (optional)/ tôm, cá hoặc, đền chùa ;
Tamari sauce, aka sốt tamari;


Finely chopping the fresh ingredients influences the flavour.
Finely chopping the fresh ingredients influences the flavour of this dish.

Cook the rice and chill;

Wash the ingredients and dry off excess moisture;

Remove the stalks from the kaffir lime, chaplu and king’s salad;

Finely chop all the ingredients – this influences the flavour of the dish;

Add sambal sauce, juice from the lime and pepper to the rice in a mixing bowl. Stir thoroughly;

Add fresh ingredients, except for the flowers. If you wish to add shrimp, fish or tempeh, add it now. Stir thoroughly;

Serve decorated with the flowers;

Season with tamari to taste;

King's salad, or vua rau xà lách.
King’s salad or vua rau xà lách.

* If you have access to torch ginger (Etlingera elatior) flowers, these can be added in place of turmeric flowers.

Jerry Coleby-Williams
Director, Seed Savers’ Network Inc.
20th January 2019


2 Comments Add yours

  1. jill & brian madden says:

    Thank you Jerry. We do need cold meals and recipes in our summer!

    Cheers Jill Madden

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Anastasia Bickel says:

    Thank you very much for this beautiful recipe, Jerry. I have been meaning to make it all summer and finally did so today for lunch. What an absolute explosion of flavour! I didn’t have turmeric flowers anymore so decorated with blue butterfly pea flowers instead. Will definitely make this again.

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