As summer hits and mint starts to take over our herb garden, Larb Gai, a Thai chicken dish, starts to take over our weekly menu.
Each flavor in larb gai sings of summer: cool refreshing mint, crisp, purple shallots, lip-puckering, zesty lime juice, fragrant toasted rice powder, tongue-tingling chili flakes and fresh bright green cilantro and green onions—perfect for a summer night in Boone, or Bangkok.
What is Larb?
Larb is what some call a “meat salad”, which sounds weird, but is really the best way to describe it since it’s cooked ground meat of choice mixed up with fresh herbs like cilantro, green onion, and mint. It’s served with sticky rice, and loaded with your favorite Thai flavors: umamai, spicy, and sour!
Larb is popular all over Laos, which is where it orginated, and Thai versions of Larb come from the northeastern area of Thailand closest to Laos, the Isan area. Isan is the area in Thailand where some of my favorite most flavor-packed Thai dishes come from like: Som Tum, Grilled Thai steak salad, and Thai Sun-Dried Beef Jerky!
It’s also associated with good luck since it’s name has the same pronunciation in Thai as “good fortune.”
How much better can a Thai dish get?!
How to Make Larb
There are so many different versions of larb! You can find some larb recipes made with ingredients like blood, duck, galangal, and tons of other ways.
My larb chicken version is an easy one to do if you don’t live in Thailand, and aren’t able to find the more tricky Thai ingredients, but you still want that authentic Thai larb flavor.
Ingredients for Larb
1 pound of ground chicken, turkey, pork or beef
1/4–1/2 c. water
2–3 shallots, thinly sliced or 1 small red onion thinly sliced
juice of 2–3 limes to taste
2–3 tbsp of fish sauce to taste
2–3 tsp of sugar to taste
1–2 tbsp of roasted rice powder
1 tsp.-1 tbsp. Thai chili flakes to taste
1 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. fresh whole mint leaves
1/2 c. green onions chopped in 1/4 in. (optional)
For how much flavor is packed in Larb Gai, you’d think it would take hours to make, but really it’s easy and quick.
Cook the meat in 1/4 cup of water in a wok or saucepan. Add more water if it’s becoming dry. Once the meat is cooked, turn off the heat and throw in the shallots.
Let the meat cool to around room temperature or so before adding the cilantro, mint, and green onions, so the herbs stay fresh.
Usually I am so hungry I don’t let it cool, and end up adding the herbs when the meat is hot and then the herbs get all wilty. It’s still yummy, but it’s even better if I’m patient and wait till it cools, so the herbs are still fresh, crisp and pretty.
What to Eat with Larb Gai
I love eating larb with Thai sticky rice, which is what it’s traditionally served with in Thailand, and steamed veggies like cabbage, which can help cool off the heat from the Thai chili flakes!
Make larb gai tonight for dinner, and share your pic with me on Instagram @thaifoodie, which is my favorite place to hang out online. Can’t wait to see your version!
Need a refreshing Thai salad to cool you down while heating up your tastebuds? Make Larb at home with this simple recipe!
- 1 pound of ground chicken, turkey, pork or beef
- 1/4–1/2 c. water
- 2–3 shallots, thinly sliced or 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- juice of 2–3 limes to taste
- 2–3 tbsp of fish sauce to taste
- 2–3 tsp of sugar to taste
- 1–2 tbsp of roasted rice powder
- 1 tsp.-1 tbsp. Thai chili flakes to taste
- 1 c. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 c. fresh whole mint leaves
- 1/2 c. green onions chopped in 1/4 in. (optional)
- Cook the meat in 1/4 cup of water in a wok or saucepan. Add more water if it’s becoming dry.
- Once the meat is cooked, turn off the heat and throw in the shallots.
- Mix it up to cook the shallots until they wilt some.
- Add in the lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, roasted rice powder and chili flakes by teaspoon, until you reach your desired flavor.
- Let the meat cool to around room temperature or so before adding the cilantro, mint, and green onions, so the herbs stay fresh.
- It’s best to eat this fresh, like any salad, so try to serve it as soon as you’ve stirred it up. But if life happens and you can’t serve it immediately, just say, mai pen rai and enjoy it!
- I love eating larb with Thai sticky rice, which is what it’s traditionally served with in Thailand, and steamed veggies like cabbage, which can help cool off the heat from the Thai chili flakes!
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Category: Thai
- Method: Stir-Fry
- Cuisine: Thai
- Serving Size: 3-4
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