Get ready for a cracking new flavor with this Authentic Thai Larb Gai Recipe! In Laos and Thailand, Larb is more than just a dish, it’s a social experience.
Meet Larb Gai, a Thai chicken salad that’s packed with flavor.
Imagine ground chicken mixed with fresh herbs like mint and cilantro. Add some fish sauce and lime juice along with a little heat from Thai chili flakes to make it tangy, umami and a tad bit spicy.
The special touch? Toasted rice powder that gives it a unique, nutty crunch and an unforgettable texture. Served with vibrant garnishes like fresh cucumber slices, julienned carrot, and crisp lettuce leaves, this Larb Gai is not your regular chicken salad for sure.
Who doesn’t like those bright, piquant, bold Thai flavors? This Thai Chicken Salad is the perfect example of this flavor combo.
Today we discovered how refreshing and light can be so delicious, and were amazed at the bold flavors that take simple ground chicken to new heights.
You Will Love this Thai Larb Recipe, cos
- Flavor: Each bite offers a beautiful medley of spicy, tangy, sweet and umami notes, making it a flavor experience unlike any other.
- Texture Contrast: The addition of toasted rice powder gives the dish a unique nutty crunch, adding a layer of complexity to the tender ground chicken.
- Herbal Freshness: The generous use of fresh mint and cilantro elevates the dish with a burst of aromatic freshness that is invigorating.
- Versatility: Larb Gai is adaptable and can be enjoyed in various forms – wrapped in lettuce leaves, served over rice, or eaten alone, allowing you to customize your eating experience.
- Quick and Easy: Despite its complex flavors, Larb Gai is surprisingly simple to make, making it a go-to dish for weeknight dinners or last-minute gatherings.
- Healthy Option: With lean protein and an array of fresh herbs and vegetables, it’s a dish that makes it easier to eat healthy without sacrificing flavor.
What is Larb?
Larb, or Laab, is a meat salad that originated in Laos, where it’s considered a national dish, and is also popular in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand.
The term “Larb” is derived from the Lao word “Laap,” which means “to chop” or “to mince” in English. In Thai Cuisine, Larb refers to a type of meat salad that is minced and flavored with various seasonings.
Although the dish has multiple variations, the core of any Larb consists of minced meat combined with aromatic herbs, lime juice, fish sauce, and toasted rice powder. The toasted rice not only gives the dish a unique, nutty aroma but also adds a delightful textural crunch.
Historically, Larb was a way to make use of leftover meat and was often prepared with game or local fish. Its origin as a humble dish meant to make the most of available resources is perhaps why it is so versatile and varies from region to region.
Over time, Larb has evolved to include multiple variations, some even incorporating offal or exotic meats. The dish has transcended its local roots to become popular worldwide, adapting to the tastes and ingredients of various cultures.
Some of the Popular Larb Variations
- Larb Gai: This version uses minced chicken and is one of the most popular types of Larb. It’s often the go-to for those new to this dish.
- Larb Moo: Featuring minced pork, this Larb is just as commonly found and beloved for its rich, meaty flavors.
- Larb Nuea: This one opts for minced beef and often includes additional elements like lemongrass for an aromatic kick.
- Larb Pla: A seafood twist on the classic, using minced fish. It’s a refreshing option often found in coastal regions.
- Larb Ped: Duck meat takes center stage in this variant, offering a gamey flavor profile that’s both unique and delicious.
- Larb Woonsen: A lighter option featuring glass noodles along with minced meat, providing a different kind of texture.
- Laab Diip: It is made from raw beef and is layered with Lao flavors like roasted sticky rice, bile, padaek, and lots of fresh herbs.
- White Glutinous Rice – Adds a nutty, toasted flavor and unique texture. We used sticky glutinous rice for this recipe. It will give you a more authentic texture, but jasmine rice is a good substitute if you can’t find it.
- Fish Sauce – Brings umami and saltiness to the dish.
- Lime Juice – Gives acidity and brightness. Freshly squeezed lime juice is always preferable to bottled for the most vibrant flavor.
- Sugar – Balances out the salt and acidity. Palm sugar can be used for a more authentic Thai flavor, although regular granulated sugar works fine, and that’s what we used.
- Thai Chili Flakes – Adds heat to the dish. Adjust the amount based on your heat tolerance. You can also use fresh Thai chilies if preferred.
- Garlic – Adds aromatic depth. Freshly minced garlic is best.
- Ground Chicken – Use dark chicken meat, as ground breast would be too lean for this dish. Ground pork is a common substitute and offers a fattier, richer flavor.
- Cilantro and Mint – Brings a refreshing herbal note.
- Scallions and Red Onion – Shallots can be used in place of red onions for a softer flavor.
- Garnishes (Cucumber, Carrot, Lettuce) – Provides a crunchy, refreshing contrast. Feel free to get creative. Radishes or other crisp veggies could also work well.
Larb Gai Recipe
1. Make Toasted Rice Powder: Dry toast white glutinous rice or jasmine rice in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until a golden brown color develops (about 10-12 minutes). Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
2. Make Larb Dressing: Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.
3. Cook Ground Chicken: Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry until it starts to caramelize and get crispy (about 6-7 minutes). Remove any excess liquid.
4. Finish Larb: Transfer the cooked chicken to a serving bowl. Add in dressing, chopped cilantro, mint, diced scallions, and sliced red onion. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the toasted rice powder over the mixture and mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning with more fish sauce, lime juice, salt, or sugar as needed.
5. Garnish and Serve: Serve Larb with cucumber slices, julienned carrots, lime wedges and lettuce leaves.
- Toasting the rice: Keep an eye while dry roasting the rice, as it can easily get burned. You need golden brown color. Keep on stirring all the time while toasting. This might take 10-12 minutes, but it’s crucial for authentic larb. You can always toast the rice and make into into powder ahead of time and store it in a small container or zip top bag.
- Don’t use leaner ground chicken: Leaner ground chicken, like ground breast, tends to be drier, not moist and juicy when cooked. When cooking the ground chicken, aim for a slightly crispy texture by cooking it on high heat. Before adding the sauce, drain off any liquid while cooking the chicken to avoid a soggy and bland Chicken Larb.
- Adjusting heat: Customize the spice level by tweaking the amount of Thai chili flakes. You can also use fresh Thai chilies for extra kick.
- Taste as you go: Larb is all about balance. Continually taste and adjust the seasoning, especially before adding the dressing to the cooked chicken.
How to Eat Chicken Larb
Chicken Larb can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, each offering its own unique experience:
- Lettuce Wraps: Fill lettuce leaves with Larb and fold to eat.
- Over Rice: Serve it on jasmine or sticky rice.
- As a Salad: Pair with fresh greens.
- With Rice Noodles: Place Larb over cooked rice noodles.
- In a Sandwich/Wrap: Use it as a filling in bread or tortillas.
- On its Own: Eat Larb straight from the bowl.
Larb is a harmonious blend of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. The dish is aromatic with fresh herbs like cilantro and mint, and it has a unique crunch thanks to toasted rice powder. The spiciness level can be adjusted to your liking.
It can be enjoyed either way, but it’s traditionally served at room temperature.
Larb can be keto-friendly if you omit any sugar and use a keto-friendly sweetener instead, and leave out the toasted rice.
You can store the chicken larb in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Simply warm it up in the microwave, or you can enjoy it chilled or at room temperature.
To freeze the chicken larb, cool to room temperature and store in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Try to press as much air out as possible, this helps prevent freezer burn. You can freeze it for up to 3 months. When ready to eat again, simply thaw and warm it up in the microwave, if desired.
Larb, the unofficial “national dish” of Laos!! It holds a special place in the hearts and tables of the Laotian and Thai people, often featured in social gatherings and ceremonies.
It’s a true taste adventure that brings a piece of South Asian tradition right to your plate. Whether you’re serving it up with sticky rice or in a lettuce cup, give this light, healthy yet flavorful chicken salad a try. You are going to love this one.
Chicken Larb, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
- 2-3 Tbsp uncooked white glutinous rice or jasmine rice
- 3 Tbsp fish sauce
- 3 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp Thai chili flakes (see note 1)
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1½Tbsp oil
- 1 pound ground chicken (you can sub it with ground pork)
- 1 small bunch cilantro, chopped (cupful packed)
- 1 small bunch mint, chopped (cupful packed)
- 2-3 scallions, diced
- ¼ small red onion or 1 shallot, sliced
- cucumber, sliced
- carrot, julienned
- lime wedges
- butter lettuce (or any other lettuce of your choice)
- Make toasted rice powder: Dry toast glutinous white rice or jasmine rice in a sauté pan over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until a golden brown color develops (about 10-12 minutes). Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
- Make Larb Dressing: Mix in all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk till well combined.
- Cook Ground Chicken: Heat oil in wok or skillet over high heat. Add the ground chicken. Stir-fry until the chicken started to get caramelized and crispy (about 6-7 minutes). Remove any excess liquid.
- Finish Larb: Remove the cooked chicken from heat and transfer it to a serving bowl. Add in dressing, chopped cilantro, mint, diced scallions and red onion, and mix well. Sprinkle 2 Tbsp toasted rice powder all over and mix well. Taste and adjust to your liking with more fish sauce and lime juice, salt or sugar as needed.
- Garnish: Serve larb with garnishes like cucumber slices, julienned carrot, and lettuce.
- Adjust the spiciness of the larb to your taste by adding more or less chili flakes.
- Keep an eye while dry roasting the rice, as it can easily get burned. You need golden brown color. Keep on stirring all the time while toasting. This might take 10-12 minutes, but it’s crucial for authentic larb.
- This salad can be eaten warm, cold, or at room temperature.
- You can store the chicken larb in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Simply warm it up in the microwave, or you can enjoy it chilled or at room temperature.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 324Total Fat 14gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 121mgSodium 1150mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 1gSugar 5gProtein 29g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.
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