I had the great fortune of living right next to Thai Town when I used to call Los Angeles home. There was a restaurant that served amazing drunk food called Hollywood Thai. With a name like that, one probably wouldn't expect much. We are, after all, talking about drunk food, and a place that serves beer — ahem, "tea" — surreptitiously in teapots after 2 a.m., when all other bars have closed by law in the city of angels.
One of my favorite dishes there was a traditional northeastern Thai dish from the region of Chiang Mai called larb (also spelled laab). It's a "salad" in the sense that it comes with a wedge of cabbage. What you're supposed to do with this cabbage isn't apparent at first until someone at the table puts two and two together and breaks off a leaf of cabbage and uses it as a spoon.
Commonly found at many Thai restaurants worth visiting, I swore by Hollywood Thai's rendition of the dish, which was inexplicably addictive. Well, perhaps not inexplicable — my version here is missing the key ingredient, MSG.
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- 1 Pound ground beef
- Juice of 2 limes
- 1/4 Cup Jasmine or short-grain rice
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/4 Cup loosely packed basil, torn
- 1/4 Cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 scallion, white and green parts, chopped
- 3 dried Thai bird's-eye chiles
- 1/2 head green cabbage, cut into 3 wedges, for serving
Calories Per Serving391
Folate equivalent (total)28µg7%
Thai Larb Gai (Chicken With Lime, Chili and Fresh Herbs)
Larb gai is a dish of browned ground chicken, mint, basil and red onions dressed with lime juice and ground red chiles that's popular in Laos and Isan, neighboring rural sections of Thailand. (The dish is sometimes spelled laab, lob or lop.) It's perfect hot weather food: spicy, crunchy and light, but rich in flavors and contrasts. Traditionally, this dish is made with a roasted rice powder that's prepared by toasting raw rice in a wok, then grounding it to a powder, but you can find premade roasted rice powder at Asian markets. Whatever you do, don't skip it — it adds a nuttiness that's essential to the authentic flavor of the dish. &mdashJulia Moskin
- ¼ cup raw sticky rice (see Note) or 2 tablespoons roasted rice powder (available at Asian markets)
- 16 ounces coarsely ground or finely chopped white- or dark-meat chicken (lean beef, such as sirloin, can be substituted)
- ½ teaspoon hot chile powder, preferably Thai or Lao
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce (nam pla)
- 5 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ cup slivered red onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons sliced scallions
- 10 whole mint leaves, more for serving
- Lettuce leaves
- cucumber spears, for serving
- 4 cups cooked sticky or jasmine rice, for serving
Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)
- To make roasted rice powder, heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Add raw rice and cook, stirring often, until rice is toasted and dark brown, but not black, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside to cool. Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar, blender or coffee grinder set aside.
- To cook chicken, heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. When very hot, add 2 tablespoons water, then add chicken, stirring constantly to break up any lumps. Cook just until cooked through, about two minutes, then transfer to mixing bowl. While chicken is just warm, add remaining ingredients (except for garnishes) and roasted rice powder. Mix gently but thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasonings. Mixture should be tangy, salty and lightly spicy.
- Spoon onto serving plate and surround with mint, lettuce and cucumber. Serve with rice. If serving with sticky rice, pinch some off, mold into a small ball and dip into larb, scooping up a little of each ingredient. Or scoop larb into lettuce leaves.
Larb gai is traditionally served with long-grain Thai or Lao sticky rice, sometimes labeled “glutinous.” It is not the same as Japanese short-grain rice.
Customize To Your Own Tastes
Like any salad, you can make larb your own. Not enough cilantro or mint in this recipe for you? Add more! Not a huge fan of cilantro? Substitute in Thai basil or maybe even more mint.
Want more of a kick? Add more chilies. Don’t eat pork or chicken? Try any other ground meat! There are also larb dishes that are made with fish or even mushrooms.
This dish is incredibly quick and easy to make. The most time-consuming step is simply dry toasting the rice grains, which takes about 10 minutes. If you make that ahead, you can be in larb-y heaven in 10 minutes or less.
SO good! I will make it again.
One of the BEST larb recipes I have found. This is one of my family's favorite meals that I make! I do strain out the excess juice after cooking the green onions and other ingredients. It never seems to evaporate.. I also add toasted rice if I have extra time!
Excellent! Will make again.
Satisfying deep flavors! A family favorite!
I love being able to replicate restaurant dishes especially exotic one. I will use this recipe every time I want larvae rather than eat out now especially since I can add more vegtables which I prefer. Next time I will try 1/2 cup chicken broth since I ended up having to strain the meat and the spice, etc is close to too spicy but ok since I eat it with a lot of lettuce (otherwise I may cut back a bit on the lime/chilli). I used it w ground beef and it work but isn't as good as ground poultry. I added cucumber and a little Italian dressing to my mound of lettuce. This one is a keeper.
I think this recipe is a bit of a miss. We found it quite a bit too sour. The amount of lime juice needs to be reduced. Also there was a little too much fish sauce as well. The chicken broth doesn't really make sense, as others have also said. I gently sautéed the chicken in a little coconut oil and it released plenty of liquid which I cooked off. So no need for the broth. I read a number of other larb recipes and they call for chopping the scallions and green onion a little, rather than just slicing it. They also call for adding the lime juice and fish sauce to taste, which may be a better idea since limes vary in sourness. I don't like cilantro so I substituted Thai basil, which I think worked well. Iɽ give this another shot with less lime juice, fish sauce and the other changes I've discussed.
There’s a major ingredient missing here. Some people have reviewed about the chicken broth (which I’ve personally never used in making this), but to bind it all together you usually use toasted rice powder-rice that’s been toasted and ground.
So I gave this a shot. mostly as written and would definitely try again. I don't claim any right to judge authenticity on this dish, so what I say is mostly to taste. Though I have once or twice tried some pretty authentic Larb Gai. Here's my thoughts: 1. The person above who said the chicken broth isn't necessary is probably correct, I didn't use any, I may test in future with a smaller amount than called for here, but I can't imagine it's to do anything but up the chicken flavor, not necessary against all these other strong flavors. 2. Too much fish sauce, for sure. That will not be cut out altogether but definitely was a bit overwhelming. 3. Not enough kick if you ask me. next time I'll be sure to have Thai chili peppers on hand, the grocery I was at didn't have them and I grabbed Serrano, but the little Thai peppers aren't hard to find round here. All in all a very good start.
This was tremendous. Larb gai is one of my favorite Thai appetizers and I've tried it in a dozen or more restaurants. This stands right up next to the best (my husband even said it was better than our favorite Thai restaurant's version). Some people are omitting/lessening the broth but I prefer to have some sauce. Makes for a bit of messy eating but keeps things moist and, as someone else suggested, perhaps doing some jasmine or coconuts rice to sop it up. I used two serrano chilis as I couldn't find Thai. Although I like heat that proved a bit too much (that said, I used 1 lb ground chicken instead of the 1.5 called for). Next time I'll do one serrano chili:1 lb ground chicken. Absolutely delicious and will be making often.
Fantastic recipe. It tastes every bit as good as what I can order in a Thai restaurant. I followed the recipe as is, and next time would maybe increase the minced Thai pepper by 50% for a little more heat.
Delicious. I added some garlic and ginger for additional flavor. Everyone in the family, even the kid, loved it.
Loved this recipe, I make it quite often and for a little variety I sometimes serve it over thinly sliced cabbage instead of lettuce. Definitely a family favorite at my house.
This is amazing, it tastes exactly like the chicken nam sod salad that I get from my local Thai restaurant. Not only does it make a great amount for several tasty light lunches during the work week, but it satisfies my craving for Thai food, and I don't have to spend $9 for lunch! I made it as written except I did not add the chicken broth, and I skipped the mint. I served it over a bed of iceberg lettuce, with sliced cucumber and tomato (the dressing goes really well with them), and a little jasmine rice on the side, to soak up the yummy dressing. I am hooked, and will be making this again and again. My sister tried it (she also loves nam sod) and she will be making it herself, and she barely cooks!
HOLY COW! Amazing recipe and very easy to make. I will absolutely be making this again. Luckily for me, the ingredients are easy to aquire. nothing like fresh lemongrass, cilantro and mint! Not to mention fresh Thai Chilis. I higly recommend the recipe.
Really good stuff! I put it on top of some shredded romaine lettuce, used the liquid as a dressing. Next time, I will cut down on the salt.
This was delicious - I substituted savoy cabbage for boston lettuce which worked fine. Also, I added crushed toasted rice (1-2T, toasted carefully in a dry skillet, crushed with mortar and pestle). I saw this in other larb recipes and it gave a really nice crunchy texture as well as a nutty flavor to the larb.
This can also be made with pork use a lean tenderloin or loin tip roast, which you can cut in chunks and then chop in a food processor. Addictive blend of intense flavors! I add finely minced ginger to the chicken or pork, just because I love ginger so much.
This is hands down the best, most authentic chicken larb I have had it is better than most of the what I have had in restaurants. I have made this salad at least 5 times, since I came accross the recipe a year ago. My friends RAVE about it and beg for the recipe. I dont even need to go spend the money for Thai food at a restaurant as this recipe is better than what you can get at most.The tang of the lime juice, the little pops of flavor from the lemongrass, shallot, and chilies is phenomonal. I have two reccomendations though. I find it completely unneccessary to add chick broth to the meat while it is cooking. In fact, i drain all the liquid from the meat after it has cooked, because i dont want it to water down the dressing. Two,you can add the dressing to the meat while it is still warm, just dont add ANY of the green onions, lemongrass,chilies, or mint until AFTER, the chicken has had a chance to cool in the refrigerator otherwise all the above ingredients discolor and lose their vibrant color and visual appeal. Lastly, be sure to use palm sugar for autheticity, available at any Asian market. This has a much different flavor than white sugar. Lastly, dont sub dried lemongrass, or dried anything in this recipe, you are doing the recipe and yourself a diservice.
While larb is eaten in Thailand it is actually from Laos. This recipe calls for too much sugar. Try a half teaspoon instead. Larb is usually served with a sprinkling of toasted rice and a side of sticy rice. It is my absolute favorite dish!
While larb is often eaten in Thailand, the dish itself is from Laos. This recipe calls for a little too much sugar. Try just a half teaspoon instead. Larb is usually served with a sprinkling of toasted rice and a side of sticky rice. Larb is my favorite dish. The one I would ask for as my last meal. I especially like it with raw meat.
All the elements are here, but I really had to adjust them for my particular taste. I don't do fish so I didn't use the fish sauce, but everything else was combined as listed. I thought it was waaaay to lime-y and didn't have enough heat, so after taste-testing I had to about triple the chili-garlic sauce, add lots of salt and a bit more sugar to balance out the lime. I thought this was the foundation of a good dish, and I would make it again with those adjustments.
Absolutely delicious! We used ground turkey b/c I like it better, Couldn't find fresh lemon grass so used it in dried form. We had it as a main course and it was DIVINE!
I replaced the mint and cilantro with the more Thai traditional fresh basil. My family really enjoyed this. Red onions can replace shallots.
i made this last night with ground turkey, and i didn't have lemongrass so left it out. Scooped it up with some hearts of romaine since i had them in the fridge. husband said - "you nailed it" It was seriously good - tangy, spicy, salty, yum.
I have made this version of larb 3-4 times, each time to rave reviews. A couple of things - buy thigh filets - the breast meat dries up way too fast. Don't grind the chicken, just chop it into 1/4" - 3/8" cubes - it holds it's moisture better that way. I use serrano peppers, as the thai bird chilis are a bit much. I also withold some of the citrus juice and all of the cilantro, adding the citrus to taste and the cilantro as a garnish [my wife is one of those who perceive cilantro with the same flavor as dish soap]. Excellent larb.
This recipe comes from Chrissy Teigen’s “Cravings: Hungry for More” cookbook. It uses toasted rice powder and toasted red chile powder to add depth to the classic Thai dish, best served with crunchy, cold cabbage leaves.
Toasted Thai red chile powder can be found in Thai markets. It can also be made by toasting dried chiles in a dry skillet until brittle and crisp, cooling, and processing in a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle.
In a large heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the pork and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, breaking up the meat into tiny pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. (Don’t worry about browning the meat just get it cooked.) Transfer the meat to a bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the toasted rice powder, chile powder, lime juice, and fish sauce. Add the sauce to the pork. Toss in the onion, scallion, cilantro, and mint. Season to taste with 1/4-teaspoon salt and 1/8-teaspoon pepper, or to taste. Serve with lime wedges, scallions, fresh herbs, cabbage, and rice.
How Do You Eat Larb?
Larb can be served with sticky rice (see our post on foolproof sticky rice ) or with raw vegetables like lettuce. It’s also delicious with fragrant coconut rice .
As my family will tell you, I am a major rice eater (I’m a two-bowl gal), but I must say that this chicken larb, when served in lettuce cups, is a delightful change of pace.
The crunchy lettuce goes perfectly with the fragrant larb, and for anyone trying to avoid carbs, a chicken larb lettuce cup offers a guilt-free option that doesn’t compromise on taste.
(Feel free to leave out the toasted rice if you’re being really strict with the carbs, but take it from me…that toasty rice is delicious. You could also reduce the amount of rice to 2 tablespoons.)
Roasted Chile Powder
Roast chiles in a dry wok over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep, dark crimson (almost brown) and give off a sweet and earthy smell (not burnt). The process shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, but it pays to be vigilant in making sure they toast evenly and slowly.
Remove from heat and let sit until cool enough to handle. Transfer to a food processor, blender, or spice grinder and grind until slightly finer than the crushed red pepper you’d find at a pizza shop. Be careful not to breathe in any chile dust when you remove the lid.
Do Ahead: Chile powder can be made 3 months ahead. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dry place.
Toasted Rice Powder
Cook rice in a dry wok over medium heat, stirring occasionally at first, then more frequently as it browns. Once you smell the toasting rice, stir in galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves. Continue to cook until rice develops a deep amber-golden hue, about the same color as brown rice, 15–20 minutes. Let cool.
Transfer rice mixture to a food processor or spice grinder and pulse until mixture is the consistency of granulated sugar.
Do Ahead: Rice powder can be made 1 month ahead. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
Chicken Larb and Assembly
Place chicken in a small saucepan and cover with water. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until chicken is opaque but still soft. Using a spatula or spoon, break meat into small clumps. Drain off water, then stir in fish sauce and sugar until sugar is dissolved. Let cool.
Add seasonings, in this order, giving a quick toss after each addition: 1½ Tbsp. Roasted Chile Powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add 1 Tbsp. Toasted Rice Powder at the last moment. Serve with green cabbage, sliced cucumber, raw green beans, and sticky rice alongside.
How would you rate Basic Chicken Larb (Larb Gai)?
A good basic recipe or an easy to prepare meal. Personally I've NEVER had a "sweet" larb dish but your mileade may vary? Thai food, usually, and I think larb especially tweaks all your taste buds, or at least it should. Like any recipe you should season it to taste. What I prefer is to maximize the texture of this dish. I usually chop the chicken or other meat used so it is coarser than what is available as ground meat. I also use a mortar and pestle to break the khao khua or roasted rice, once again to offer more texture than what pulverizing in a machine accomplishes. Sure these additional steps take a little more time but in my opinion they are worth the effort..
Between the shrimp and the rice
This recipe is amazing - it's easy but tastes so complex. A staple in our home!
This is supposed to be sweet - if made per this recipe, it’s not. Also: why the f*ck do you need an ENTIRE cup of rice, to crush, and toast in a wok - only to sprinkle a spoonful over it at the very end? It’s like it’s trying to drive up the price of rice in the third world countries that have rice-heavy diets. Whomever published this, and allowed it to make it to the internet is a moron.
I have made this recipe over 20 times, and I think that it is a great representation. We make this about once a week now. YES! 3 tbl of fish sauce.
3 Tablespoons fish sauce? inedible. way too salty -and i used twice as much chicken than recipe called for, but left all other ingredients the same. also, when preparing roasted rice powder, recipe calls for 1 cup rice when only using 1 tablespoon in final dish. wtf.
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- 3/4 pound lean pork or chicken, trimmed of connective tissue and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup dry glutinous rice (See note)
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup fish sauce
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves (preferably Thai)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons ground dry Thai chilis (more or less to taste)
- 1/4 cup lime juice from about 4 limes
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar (see note)
- Crumbled pork rinds (optional)
- Thinly sliced fresh red chili (optional)
Place meat on a tray leaving a one inch space between each cube and place in freezer until firm but not frozen, about fifteen minutes. Transfer half of meat to bowl of food processor and pulse until meat is roughly ground and no pieces larger than 1/4-inch remain, about 10 one-second pulses. Transfer meat to a bowl. Repeat with remaining meat. Set aside.
While meat chills, place rice in an empty 12-inch skillet and heat over medium-high heat shaking constantly until rice is golden brown and a nutty popcorn-like aroma emerges, about 6 minutes. Transfer to mortar and pestle and grind until it has the texture of cracked black pepper. Alternatively, grind in a spice grinder. Set aside.
Add oil and shallots to now-empty skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until shallots are golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain shallots and discard oil but do not wipe out pan.
Add pork, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons water to pan. Cook, stirring frequently until pork is just cooked through but not browned at all, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool five minutes. Add remaining fish sauce, scallions, basil, cilantro, mint, half of chili, lime juice, sugar, and toasted rice powder. Toss with hands and taste for seasoning, adding more chili if higher heat is desired.
Just before serving, add fried shallots and toss again. Granish with pork rinds and chili. Serve immediately with cabbage or lettuce on the side.
Authentic Thai larb recipe (larb moo ลาบหมู) – Thai Recipes
Thai larb, often made with minced pork (larb moo ลาบหมู), is one of the most popular Thai street food dishes. Though on the streets of Thailand it’s most of the time made with pork, you can also find it made with minced chicken, or even minced duck. I also like versions of larb made with roasted catfish, known as larb pla duk. But anyway, for the Thai larb recipes I’ll be using minced pork, but feel free to substitute whatever other meat you’d like. Even mushrooms or tofu works well. Thai larb is a meat salad dish. Along with the meat you choose, you mix in some fish sauce, lots of lime juice, chili flakes, shallots, and some herbs to freshen things up. In Thailand when you eat larb it’s normally an Isaan dish, so it’s often eaten together with green papaya salad (http://www.eatingthaifood.com/2014/01/thai-green-papaya-salad-recipe/) and eaten along with Thai sticky rice. I love the flavors in this dish, and especially love how the meat is so refreshing and flavorful.
As long as you have all the ingredients on hand, and as long as the “khao kua” or toasted sticky rice is prepared in advance, this Thai larb recipe is extremely easy to prepare and should only take a few minutes to make. You begin with cooking the minced pork, and from there you don’t need to cook anything else, you just start to mix in all the dressing ingredients. Again, like with all Thai recipes and cooking, be sure to taste test plenty of times until you have your larb tasting exactly the way you want it to taste – I especially love spicy and sour.
Ok, here is your ingredients list for this authentic Thai larb recipe:
About 5 tablespoons of uncooked Thai sticky rice (this is going to be toasted and used as an ingredient in the dish)
300 grams (1 pound) minced pork
½ – 1 tablespoon of chili flakes (prik bon)
1/8 tablespoon of sugar (just a pinch)
½ tablespoon of fish sauce
1 – 2 limes (I used the juice from about 1.5 limes)
3 – 4 small shallots (Thai shallots are only about the size of grapes, so if you have bigger shallots just use however much you want)
A few leaves of culantro, which is a little like cilantro, if you can’t find any, you don’t need to use it
3 – 5 spring onions (green onions)
About 20 leaves or so of fresh mint
I am creating these Thai street food recipes as a resource for authentic Thai cooking – and by authentic I mean real everyday meals and food that you could eat when you’re in Thailand. If you follow this recipe you’ll be tasting the same food that you could get on the streets of Bangkok or Chiang Mai. Enjoy this recipe, and be sure to give this video a quick thumbs up, and let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.