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Laab Gai, Thai Chicken Larb Salad

This easy laab gai recipe is full of bright and delicious flavors! This tangy, spicy, and crunchy Thai chicken salad is best enjoyed piled on a crisp vegetable leaf. 

Laab Gai, Thai Chicken Larb Salad

Laab gai (also spelled laap, larp, lahb or laab) is a traditional northeastern Thai meat salad. Although the main ingredient is chicken, this main dish also features a generous amount of fresh herbs, seasonings, and lime juice. The result is a tangy, bright, and refreshing salad! Oftentimes, this healthy chicken larb salad is served on a lettuce leaf, which contributes more satisfying crispness and freshness to the dish. 

The key ingredients for this dish are chicken, shallot, toasted sticky rice powder (khao kua), fish sauce, lime juice, green onion, mint, and sawtooth coriander. The toasted sticky rice powder gives a hint of nuttiness and a crunchy texture to the dish, so it shouldn’t be skipped. Most importantly, the toasted rice helps to soak up the extra juice from the chicken, fish sauce, and lime juice. 

One ingredient for larb gai salad is sawtooth coriander, which is similar to cilantro but has a stronger flavor. It can be hard to source, so cilantro can substitute it. 

Some additional ingredients that are sometimes added to this dish are kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and galangal. These ingredients are typically toasted and ground with the sticky rice into a powder. I omitted these in my version for an easy larb gai recipe. 

Notes

  • Toasted Sticky Rice Powder: If you do not have sticky rice, you can substitute it with other types of rice, such as white or brown rice. 
  • Other Flavorings: You could add more flavor to the toasted rice by adding ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, or galangal. If adding lemongrass/galangal, make sure to slice into small pieces. Then, add the ingredient(s) to the pan with the rice to toast, and grind them up with the rice as well. 
  • Cooking with water: This recipe doesn’t need to brown the chicken. So, as long as the chicken is fully cooked, you can move to the next step. 
  • Serving Later: If the dish will be served later, wait just before serving to add the toasted rice powder. This will prevent the toasted rice from absorbing all of the extra juice and turning slightly mushy.

Laab Gai, Thai Chicken Larb Salad

This easy laab gai recipe is full of bright and delicious flavors! This tangy, spicy, and crunchy Thai chicken salad is best enjoyed piled on a crisp vegetable leaf.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Main Course, Salad
Cuisine: Thai
Keyword: chicken larb salad, easy larb gai recipe, laab gai, larb gai salad, thai chicken larb
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 213kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp sticky rice or any other type of rice, *Note 1
  • 1/2 lb chicken ~ 226 grams
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 shallots thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tbsp lime juice roughly 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp chili powder adjust to taste
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 2 green onions chopped
  • 12 leaves of mint around 1/3 cup
  • Handful of cilantro

Serving

  • Fresh vegetables e.g. iceberg lettuce, cabbage, cucumber etc.

Instructions

Toasted sticky rice (khao kua)

  • In a dry pan over medium-high heat, add the rice. Stir constantly until the rice turns a deep brown color, around 5 minutes. The rice should smell very toasty, almost like popcorn. *Note 2
  • Remove it from the heat immediately and add to a mortar and pestle or a food processor/blender. Grind the rice until it resembles coarse sand (make sure you don’t grind it too much).

Make the Chicken Larb

  • In a wide pot or pan, add the water. Bring it to a simmer and add the ground chicken.
  • Cook the chicken over medium heat, stirring to break it into small pieces. Once fully cooked and most of the water has evaporated, turn off the heat. *Note 3
  • While the chicken is still hot, mix in the shallot to wilt and soften them.
  • Mix in the fish sauce, lime juice, chili flakes, 1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder, and sugar. *Note 4
  • Mix in the green onion, cilantro, and mint.
  • Taste and adjust with more fish sauce, lime juice, or chili powder to your liking.
  • Serve with sticky rice and fresh vegetables (e.g. iceberg lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, etc.)

Notes

  1. Toasted Sticky Rice Powder: If you do not have sticky rice, you can substitute it with other types of rice such as white or brown rice.
  2. Other Flavorings: You could add more flavor to the toasted rice by adding ingredients such as kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, or galangal. If adding lemongrass/galangal, make sure to slice into small pieces. Then, add the ingredient(s) to the pan with the rice to toast, and grind them up with the rice as well.
  3. Cooking with water: This recipe doesn’t need to brown the chicken. So, as long as the chicken is fully cooked, you can move to the next step.
  4. Serving Later: If the dish will be served later, wait just before serving to add the toasted rice powder. This will prevent the toasted rice from absorbing all of the extra juice and turning slightly mushy.

How to Make Laab Gai

Toasted sticky rice (khao kua)

In a dry pan over medium-high heat, add the rice. Stir constantly until the rice turns a deep brown color, around 5 minutes. The rice should smell very toasty, almost like popcorn. 

Remove it from the heat immediately and add to a mortar and pestle or a food processor/blender. Grind the rice until it resembles coarse sand (make sure you don’t grind it too much). 

Ground Sticky Rice Powder for Laab Gai

Make the Larb

In a wide pot or pan, add the water. Bring it to a simmer and add the ground chicken. Cook the chicken over medium heat, stirring to break it into small pieces. Once fully cooked and most of the water has evaporated, turn off the heat. 

Cooking the chicken for laab gai

While the chicken is still hot, mix in the shallot to wilt and soften them. 

Chicken and Shallots

Mix in the fish sauce, lime juice, chili flakes, 1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder, and sugar.

Chili Powder, Sticky Rice Powder, sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce added

Mix in the green onion, cilantro, and mint. Taste and adjust with more fish sauce, lime juice, or chili powder to your liking.

Laab Gai, Thai Chicken Larb Salad - Herbs mixed in

Serve with sticky rice and fresh vegetables (e.g. iceberg lettuce, cabbage, cucumber, etc.) 

Laab Gai, Thai Chicken Larb Salad on Lettuce

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