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Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice & Salmon

This Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice and Salmon is a delicious, healthy, low ingredient dish that’s perfect for easy, laid back summer entertaining. It’s easy to make and utterly satisfying. And you can have it on the table in 30 minutes!

Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice and Nuoc Cham Dressing

It is naturally gluten-free and the crispy garlic rice adds texture and a delicious savoury nutty crunch to this Vietnamese salad. And it’s a great budget -friendly way to enjoy salmon.  

If you’re a fan of Salmon, I suggest also checking out my Air Fryer Salmon in a Warm Spring Salad  and this Quick Glazed Salmon Supper With A Cucumber Salad .

Rice Crispy!

Okay, maybe not what you think, but the secret to this dish, isn’t actually the salmon, although it is a strong contender. The element that really elevates this dish to sublimely satisfying new heights is the crispy rice.

You honestly wouldn’t imagine that such a humble ingredient would have such a massive impact!

Rather than starting from scratch (because I know how busy you are), I use a bag of pre-cooked Jasmine rice, which means this dish can be on the table in 30 minutes.

We’re adding a clove of garlic, seasoning with salt and pepper and adding a little oil – then spreading it out of a baking tray that will fit in your air fryer or oven and baking it for 20 minutes until crisp. You’ll need to turn the rice 2 or 3 times to ensure that it crisps evenly, and once ready, let it cool slightly before breaking into bite sized pieces.

Apart from the supremely satisfying crunch, allowing the rice to crisp imparts a deliciously subtle, savoury element that ties in beautifully with the rest of the dish.

Sublime Salmon

Basing a meal around salmon can become quite expensive if you’re serving individual pieces to everyone.

So, this is an excellent way to enjoy deliciously moreish salmon – but also allows it to go a lot further by incorporating it into this delicious Vietnamese salad with crispy rice. Essentially, we’re roasting it as a fillet, but then breaking it into chunks and adding it to the salad.

The Lowdown on Salmon’s Health Benefits

Salmon is a nutrient-rich fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin D, selenium, and B vitamins. These nutrients have a wide range of health benefits, including:

  • Improved bone and joint health
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Aids in the prevention of age-related mental decline and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Supports healthy skin
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Promotes better sleep
  • Healthy eye function

Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, which can contribute to pain and stiffness in the joints. And Vitamin D is essential for bone health and protecting against osteoporosis. Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your cells from damage. B vitamins are important for energy production and cognitive function.


Crispy Rice Salad with Salmon and Vietnamese Dressing

The Building Block of Vietnamese Cuisine

Yes – I’m talking fish sauce. 

And it really is so prevalent in Vietnamese food, that you’re more likely to find a small bottle of fish sauce on dining tables rather than salt. It’s used as an ingredient in a huge variety of Vietnamese dishes, as well as a dipping sauce.

Fish sauce is a salty, savoury, and rather pungent liquid condiment made from fish – usually anchovies – that have been coated in sea salt and fermented for up to two years. It’s used as a staple seasoning in East and Southeast Asian cuisine. Wherever you go – Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam – you’ll find fish sauce featuring prominently. 

It’s actually believed to have originated in China more than 2300 years ago, and then travelled south, becoming a staple in Southeast Asia. The earliest known reference to fish sauce is in a Chinese text from the 2nd century BC.  

Fish sauce has a strong, salty flavour with notes of umami.  

The Vietnamese word for fish sauce is “nước mắm,” which literally means “fish water” and – unsurprisingly – Vietnam also happens to be the world’s largest producer of fish sauce.

Today, fish sauce can be made from a variety of fish, including anchovies, sardines, mackerel, and shrimp, and it’s a brilliant source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids. It adds a wonderful depth of umami flavour to a dish that you really can’t get any other way.  

Oh -and fish sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a year.

World’s Best Fish Sauce?

According to those in the know, the world’s best is the fish sauce made on Phu Quoc Island. Here, it ferments and matures in wooden vats for up to a year. And because the Phu Quoc name can only be used for fish sauce actually made on the island, it’s been assigned the Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Union.

Well-known brands that are designated as Phu Quoc fish sauce include:

  • Flying Lion
  • Phu Quoc
  • Red Boat – 40 Degrees North

Bringing Your Vietnamese Salad Together 

 We’re adding the crispy rice, roasted salmon, mint leaves, coriander leaves, spring onion and red onion and dressing it with a simple Vietnamese inspired Nước Chấm  dressing. This allows the delicious freshness of the salad ingredients to come through, without being disguised by an overpowering dressing.  It doesn’t get yummier or easier than this. 

And as always, I encourage you to make this recipe your own, so taste and adjust as you go along!


Let’s get to it.

Take a Moment to Rate My Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice & Salmon

Did you try my Vietnamese salad with crispy garlic rice and salmon?  Please leave me a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo#theculinarycartel on Instagramso we can see what you come up with.


Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice and Salmon with Vietnamese Dressing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use lemons instead of limes?

Yes, you can. Using limes offers a more authentic Vietnamese flavour, but I encourage you to use up what you have at hand.  

Can I omit the fish sauce?

The fish sauce adds a delicious umami flavour that surprisingly isn’t overpowering or overly fishy, and when blended with the other sauce ingredients makes for a super yummy Nuoc Cham dressing – so I’d encourage you to add it. If you’d really prefer not to, you can substitute the fish sauce for an equal quantity of soy sauce.

Can I use another type of fish?

Sure. You can use any type of fish that’s readily available. The cook time will vary depending on the thickness of the fish fillet. 

Can I make this vegan ?

Yes. Vegan fish sauce is available on amazon or it could be substituted for soy. Use tofu in place of the salmon. 

Crispy Garlic Rice and Salmon Salad
Easy Vietnamese Salad Recipe with Crispy Garlic Rice
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Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice and Nuoc Cham Dressing

Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice & Salmon

  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Diet: Gluten Free


This Vietnamese Salad with Crispy Garlic Rice and Salmon is a delicious, healthy low ingredient dish that’s perfect for easy, laid back summer entertaining. It’s easy to make and utterly satisfying. And you can have it on the table in 30 minutes!

It’s naturally gluten-free and the crispy garlic rice adds texture and a delicious savoury nutty crunch to this Vietnamese salad.  And it is a great budget friendly way to enjoy salmon.




For the Vietnamese salad

  • 250g pre-cooked jasmine rice (I used the Tilda brand)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 spring onions
  • 400g salmon, skin removed
  • 15g / 1/2 bag mint, leaves picked from stems
  • 30g / 1 bag coriander
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 red chilli, seeded, membrane removed and finely chopped (use 1/2 to pickle the red onion and the other 1/2 in the dressing)
  • 2 Tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 lime (use 1/2 to pickle the red onion and the other 1/2 in the dressing)
  • Salt & pepper to season

For the Nuoc Cham dressing

  • 1/2 red chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 a lime / 1.5 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp fish sauce



  1. I use pre-cooked rice, but if you want to make the rice from scratch, cook it as usual.
  2. Grate over one clove of garlic, toss with 1 tablespoon of a neutral oil – I used rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt.
  3. Toss through to coat the rice evenly, and then flatten onto a baking tray that fits your air fryer. Place the rice into your air fryer at 180 C for 20 minutes or in your oven at 200 C for 15-20 minutes; turning 2 to 3 times to ensure it crisps evenly.
  4. While the rice is crisping, peel and thinly slice half a red onion, and set aside.
  5. Remove the membrane and the seeds from the red chilli and dice finely.
  6. Combine half of the chopped chilli, sliced red onion, squeeze over the juice of half a lime, sprinkle over a little salt and set aside to pickle.
  7. To make the Nuoc Cham dressing, combine the other half of the chopped red chilli, 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, 4 tablespoons of water, 2 tablespoons of sugar, ½ a freshly squeezed lime and 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. Combine until the sugar has dissolved completely.
  8. To cook the salmon place onto a baking tray that fits in your air fryer and air fry for 7 minutes at 200 C, (no need to preheat) or in your oven at 200 C for 7 – 10 minutes until easily flaked and a little bit pink.
  9. Once the salmon is cooked, remove it from the air fryer and allow to cool slightly.
  10. Assemble the salad using the mint leaves, coarsely chopped coriander leaves, spring onions, pickled onion, and the crispy rice. Break the salmon into chunks and add to the salad, pour over the dressing and toss to coat evenly, taking care not to break the salmon chunks.

And that’s it – ready to serve.



  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 20 min
  • Category: Mains, Fish Dishes

Keywords: Vietnamese Salad, Crispy Rice, Salmon

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