Thai Chicken Salad-Larb Gai

Revised 2018 Apr 17

Larb Chicken salad is classic Thai. I make it with chicken, but in Thailand pork or beef are also used. One of its special ingredients is ground roasted rice, which adds a satisfying grittiness and subtle flavor (Note: if you don't have time to make the ground roasted rice, either leave it out or substitute ground peanuts). Another key ingredient in this dish is fresh mint. The salad is best served while the chicken is still hot from the pan and the greens are cold, like a Western-style grilled chicken salad. This dish is so good, I find it addictive! Excellent with a chilled glass of white wine. - Darlene Schmidt

2 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons uncooked sticky rice, optional
1/2 pound. chicken breast, boned and skinned, chopped up into small pieces *
1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup chopped onion
4 kaffir lime leaves , optional
4 cups fresh arugula
10 mint leaves, chopped up fine
3 green onions, sliced
fresh basil, (up to a handful)
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, sliced or diced
2 tablespoons fish sauce , for frying chicken
-- Salad Dressing --
1 1/2 tablespoon lime juice, about 2 limes
3 tablespoons fish sauce , (plus more, to taste)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha

Preparation

Optional toasted rice

Place uncooked rice (if using) in a dry wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. If not adding rice, skip to step 4.

As the rice heats up, shake the pan back and forth or stir with a spoon. After 6-8 minutes, the rice will turn a light golden brown and will begin to pop (like popcorn).

When it begins to pop, transfer the rice to a coffee grinder or pestle & mortar. Grind down to a course powder. Tip: A coffee grinder works well for this. Simply wipe out with a clean, dry cloth, then pour in your rice and grind. For pestle & mortar, use a firm, circular grinding motion. Set aside until later.

Salad

Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a cup or bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Taste-test the dressing before adding to salad.

Combine all the cold salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (arugula/salad greens, mint, green onions, basil, red pepper, and cucumber). Set aside.

Place 1-2 Tbsp. oil in a wok/frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, chicken, and lime leaf (if using). As you stir-fry, add the fish sauce. Also add a little water if the wok/pan becomes dry. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked (8-10 minutes).

Transfer the hot chicken to the salad bowl with prepared salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and toss well. Finally, add the ground roasted rice (if using).

Serve immediately while the chicken is still warm and ENJOY!

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* substitute ground chicken, pork or turkey
Dressing: The original recipe called for 1/2 to 1 red chilis and 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne. For us it was edible but not enjoyable. I substituted sriracha because it's consistent and I can pretty much judge how much heat I'm getting. I also increased the amount of lime juice to better balance the sweet/sour/hot/salt. You have to eat the salad, taste the dressing to be sure that it suits you, keeping in mind that there will be a little more salty flavour from the chicken. I find this makes more dressing than I like to use. Fortunately it keeps well and tastes really good.
Leftovers: (author's note) This salad is also good cold. I usually add more fresh greens and toss with a little more fish sauce.

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