On days when you feel like a lighter meal option, Thai Chicken Larb is an ideal dish. Larb is a Thai mince-meat salad, made with lime juice, fish sauce and fresh herbs. Although regarded as the “unofficial” national dish of Laos, Larb is also enjoyed throughout Thailand. With this version I have used chicken mince but it can also be made with minced (ground) pork, beef, duck or fish.
I love to make Thai Chicken Larb. It is a dish which is light to eat, delicious at any time of year but especially suitable for the warmer months. It is fragrant and fresh tasting, with a perfect combination of hot, sour, salty and sweet flavours.
This is a dish which is quickly and easily made. Once you have all the ingredients prepared, it takes minutes to assemble. For those interested in low-fat or low-carbohydrate dishes, this is the recipe for you. Many recipes for Larb stir fry the chicken in a little oil. However, this dish differs in that I poach/steam the chicken mince in a small amount of water. This results in tender, moist chicken. The cooked chicken is put into a bowl and the remaining ingredients added. It is that simple; there’s no complex cooking technique. If you are a novice cook, you will be successful with this recipe. I add flavour to the chicken with spring onion/scallion and fish sauce, the flavours heightened by the bright notes of lime juice, coriander and fragrant mint.
The recipe does contain chilli, however, you are able to customise the amount to your personal taste.
Toasted rice powder is also used in Thai Chicken Larb. If you’re unfamiliar with toasted rice powder it is an ingredient which is widely used throughout South-East Asia. It is not readily available but can be purchased from Asian grocers. However, it is very simple to make at home. It is just rice, frequently sticky/glutinous white rice, which is toasted in a wok or frying pan and then ground to a coarse powder. It adds a nutty flavour and absorbs liquids. But, other white rices will also work well and for this recipe I have used Jasmine rice.
There are several ways in which to serve this dish. I like to serve it on a platter with fresh, crisp lettuce leaves, slices of cucumber, wedges of lime and an assortment of fragrant herbs.
My favourite lettuce for this purpose is the wonderfully crisp iceberg. However, leaves of cos/romaine lettuce are also suitable. Served in this manner this is a great dish for sharing, allowing guests to assemble their own lettuce cups.
It can also be served as an appetiser on crispy, fried wonton wrappers. Additionally, it is extremely portable, ideal for a picnic or a healthy work lunch. Or, serve it at room temperature with a bowl of freshly cooked Jasmine rice.
Thai Chicken Larb is such a great, healthy and flavourful meal. With this recipe you’ll be able to enjoy this popular and exotic Thai salad that you have made yourself.
Please let me know in the comments below if you try this recipe.
Alex and Faye xx
P.S. Prefer a vegetarian option? Try our Mushroom San Choy Bow!
Thai Chicken Larb
- 250 g chicken mince ground chicken
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce * 40 ml
- 2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed 40 ml
- 1 tsp grated palm sugar *
- 3 stems coriander/cilantro divided
- 1 stalk spring onion/scallion white and some green, finely sliced
- 10 mint leaves finely sliced *
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
Roasted Ground Rice –
- 1/4 cup Jasmine rice (raw) *
Serving Suggestions –
- red chilli, sliced thinly and sprinkled on top
- iceberg or cos lettuce leaves
- lime wedges
- cucumber wedges
- fresh herbs: mint, coriander, Thai basil
- Place the rice in a medium-size frying pan and heat over low-medium heat.
- Shake the pan constantly until the rice is golden, 10-15 minutes.
- Cool the rice slightly before grinding in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
- You need to end up with a coarse powder, almost like sesame seeds – don’t turn it into dust.
- Place the water and chicken mince in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Using a silicone spatula, stir the chicken until it is cooked. It is not necessary to break it up completely, small chunks are preferable.
- Remove from the heat and turn the chicken, and the liquid which remains, into a bowl.
- Add the remaining ingredients and mix them together. Check that the seasoning is well balanced and to your taste.
- Arrange the salad on a serving platter, sprinkle with chilli if using. Arrange the lettuce leaves, cucumber, lime wedges and herbs on the plate and serve. Each person spoons some Larb onto the lettuce leaf, along with a few herb leaves. You may like to squeeze on a little fresh lime.
*Thai fish sauce is available from supermarkets or Asian grocers. It is one of the basic ingredients in Thai food. Do not be deterred by the “fishy” smell; it is pungent but adds umami flavour and is counteracted by the use of lime juice and herbs. It is readily available in supermarkets.
*Palm sugar is produced from the sap of several different varieties of palms. It has a mild caramel flavour and is not as “sickly” sweet as regular cane sugar. It is available in supermarkets and Asian grocers.
* This is rice, frequently sticky/glutinous white rice but can be other white rice. The rice is toasted in a wok or frying pan and then ground to a coarse powder. It adds a nutty flavour and absorbs liquids. I have used Jasmine rice.
*Do not slice the mint until shortly before serving as it will blacken.
*This is more rice than you will need. You can make less but I like to have some extra on hand.