Larb Gai (Spicy chicken salad)
Larb Gai salad is classic Thai. I make it with chicken, but you canmake with pork or beef . 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, Excellent with a hot sticky rice.
- 4 Tbsp. uncooked sticky rice
- 1/2 lb. chicken breast, chopped up into small pieces OR ground chicken (pork or beef)
- 1 shallot, OR 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 4 kaffir lime leaves, cut into thin slivers with scissors
- 4-5 loose cups fresh arugula OR other garden greens of your choice
- 10-15 mint leaves, chopped up fine
- 3 green onions, sliced
- handful of fresh basil
- 1 small red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, sliced or diced
- 2 Tbsp. fish sauce for frying chicken
- juice of 1 lime
- 4 Tbsp. fish sauce (plus more to taste)
- 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/2 to 1 fresh minced red chili OR 1/3 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed chili
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.
Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a cup or bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.
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).
Taste-test the salad, adding more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier/more flavorful (I usually add 1-2 Tbsp, but I like mine a little on the salty side). Add more dried crushed chili if you prefer it spicier. If too bitter, add a little more sugar.
Serve immediately while the chicken is still warm and ENJOY!