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Thai Spicy Ground Chicken and Toasted Rice, 'Larb Gai'

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This is one of our all-time favorite Thai dishes, and it is a very common dish served throughout Thailand as well as Laos. It's quick to make and often extremely spicy, but the lime juice and mint leaves make for an exotic and splendid combination.

It can be found on Thai restaurant menus in America as "chicken salad Thai style", which might be the best description for this dish.

Larb is pronounced "lawb" and that means salad. It can be made with beef (lawb nuea) or pork (lawb muu) instead of chicken.

You can make a more fancy lawb by adding beanthread noodles (see our recipe for larb woonsen). The spice mix is fairly simple but we have a ready-made larb spice package-- Click here if you're interested in our instant larb mix.

On a recent trip to Bangkok we enjoyed it at a modern restaurant (shown below served with various sauces and over fish). Rumour has it that the restaurant has a European chef/owner. The recipes are innovative and traditional at the same time.

Ingredients

1 lb ground chicken
2 tablespoons sliced shallot
2 tablespoons finely chopped spring onion
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
3 tablespoons roasted rice powder (khao koor)
2 tablespoons ground Thai chile (be sure to use real Thai ground chile)
3 tablespoons lime juice
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce

Garnish

Always serve with a good portion of fresh cabbage, and add green beans, parsley, sliced radish, cucumber, & coriander leaves if you like.

Method

You can use ground chicken from the supermarket, or chicken ground in your food processor. Cook the chicken with 2 tablespoons lime juice in a pan over moderate heat. Stir until done. Transfer cooked chicken into medium mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Taste and season as desired. You might want more or less ground chile and/or fish sauce, etc. Serve with fresh vegetables (as shown) and warm, freshly-steamed sticky rice (or if you prefer you can use Thai jasmine rice). Note: if you like chicken giblets, cut them up into small pieces and cook in boiling water. Drain then add to cooked ground chicken before you add the other ingredients.

The usual way to eat this is to get a small ball of sticky rice in the fingers and use it to pick up a little lawb, then eat it with the raw veggies. You can also use a fork and spoon as a lot of Thais do.

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Comments

Andy Taylor
August 25th, 2008
7:09 PM
This recipe is FANTASTIC! In fact, it is one of my all time favorite meals. My wife and I have it every week and we even look forward to it! My two year old son loves it as well. Make sure you follow the recipe and don't deviate from it too much. It is a gem! Use fresh ingredients especially fresh mint. Make sure you add the toasted rice. It adds a wonderful crunchiness. Finally, use sticky rice. It makes a world of difference than regular rice. Sticky rice compliments the Laab beautifully. Thanks to importfood.com for this recipe. It is an absolute winner! Andy Corning, NY
Anonymous
October 16th, 2008
9:46 PM
this is not the end, thai and lao food is awesome. get real authentic without fear, and i guarantee you will love it!
Anonymous
February 10th, 2009
7:25 PM
This is GREAT! Just like I remember, I've cooked it several times and just can't get enough. Fresh mint does the trick for this dish. Thanks
JoJo Collins
April 20th, 2009
5:42 PM
This is so easy and soooo good!
Anonymous
June 30th, 2009
1:26 PM
I make the same recipe with ground beef
Anonymous
September 29th, 2009
1:03 PM
Ground pork is the way to go with this dish. It is the most authentic Larb Moo recipe I have found since I've been back in the States.
Anonymous
November 11th, 2009
3:17 AM
Its not pronounced "lawb" - there is no "orb" like sound in the word at all. The only person I could think of that would pronounce it like this would be Lloyd Grossman. It is pronounced "laarb" with the double A highlighting the emphasis on making the "aah" sound longer. I promise you that if you go anywhere in Thailand and ask for "lawb" or "lorb" you will be not be understood at all.
ImportFood.com
November 12th, 2009
12:00 PM
Just go to our video here and a native Thai speaker demonstrates how it's pronounced, frankly it is quite similar to Lawb, but any further comments about a proper English spelling is welcome.
ed long
February 3rd, 2010
5:15 PM
great recipe thanks!!!
megan bomgaars
February 16th, 2010
5:53 PM
i really like the way you cook the rice and the chicken and the other things you make how do you cook them? i really like to try some of the recipe you made yourslef and i went online to look up taI food to make for dinner for me and my mom kris and i am your huge fan and i am a evergreen cheerleader and my name is megan bomgaars and how do you cook rice and beans thanks
Anonymous
March 18th, 2010
1:45 AM
I've found adding fresh string beans slightly cooked but still crunchy adds an awesome new level to the dish. Just mix them in directly with the chicken!
Mercy
March 18th, 2010
9:59 PM
I prepared this for my visitors and they all loved it! I used fresh in gredients. This is soooooooo yummy! I always look for Thai restaurant in every places I go. This is 10 out of 10+
Holly B.
April 25th, 2010
10:30 PM
I live in Mexico. Almost any chile you can think of probably grows here. I don't understand why I must use one grown in Thailand. Can't it be just as good with, say, serranos or jalapenos? Since I can't use the Thai chiles, can someone recommend a truly fine substitute?

While we have a store that carries an awesome number of imports, I don't think they have roasted rice powder. Could I roast some rice and then try to grind it? It'd be hard on my equipment, so isn't there a viable substitute? What drew me to this recipe was the promise of toasted rice, but a powder is hardly going to give the crunchiness that Andy Taylor said his family loves. So how did I manage to miss all references to toasted rice? I hope it isn't incipient senility...

Before moving to Mexico, my hometown had an oriental restaurant (and I think it was Thai), who served many of their dishes on top of toasted and PUFFED rice, brought to the table still vigorously sizzling. It was phenomenal! I've been trying to figure out ways to duplicate it at home, so far with no success. Does anyone know how to make that sizzling puffed rice? I'd grovel at your feet if you could! That same restaurant often handed me something to munch while waiting for a carry out order (kinda sweet, huh?) And it was usually a wonton filled with a creamy mixture containing crab meat. Also out of this world, and I can't FIND anything that might duplicate it. I'd truly like to find a recipe I could use at home. For which I would similarly grovel.

Chinese and Japenese foods are still enjoying their days in the sun. I think other oriental cuisines - and Indian, too - can achieve the same thing, but only IF we can get around the kind of ingredients that you have to order from overseas. I don't buy ANYTHING online, ever. If domestic made versions of these ingredients could be made available broadly, I think it would elevate the popularity of these other cuisines tremendously, even if it DID remove some sales from the ingredients that have to be ordered from Thailand or India, etc. I might order some kind of specialty food from far away, but only if I was about to entertain visiting royalty... And maybe not even then. I'm saving this recipe, because I want to try it, but not unless I know I can come VERY close to the real thing. Anyone offering some help would be appreciated.
Anonymous
July 6th, 2010
2:35 PM
Holly B: I think the creamy crab wonton you're referring to is called a Crab Rangoon. Be sure to search for its history and recipes at google.com. ImportFood: Thank you for having this AWESOME website. I enjoy the recipes and newsletters!
Ronald Stepp
December 22nd, 2010
3:32 PM
Personally I use ground white turkey. It processes better than chicken which turns stringy and gets mushy when you add the lime/fish sauce.
chris
March 22nd, 2011
9:14 AM
Hi there I have also a problem with the "toasted rice powder". Where can I find that one OR can I make it myselft whilst I roast the rice corns myself??? And then grind it in the coffee grinder???? Please help! Otherwise I find this receipe pretty good and easy to make as all the recipes from you. I would like to try it out pretty soon therefore it would be pretty much appreciate your help
Anonymous
June 5th, 2011
10:01 PM
Asking for a proper English spelling of a Thai word is like asking for a halal pork chop. I believe the 'official' transliteration would be larb, but that's not particularly helpful as there's no 'r' sound in the word. Think 'lap' as in 'put your napkin on your lap' but with a long vowel sound (ah) and a falling tone (imagine stamping your foot as you say it); don't pop the p.
Stan Perkins
July 2nd, 2011
9:48 PM
lawb muu is super!
Madison_australia
November 24th, 2011
10:48 PM
This was amazing. So simple, balanced flavours. I added extra lime... cause I loveeee lime. Can't get enough. I served it with some lettuce. And topped with coriander. Was such a lovely light meal. Now I don't have to go to my local thai resturant as much and pay $17 a serve when I can simply make it now. Thank you
Anonymous
December 18th, 2011
7:53 PM
It would be better with cilantro, ginger and lemongrass.
Sue
March 9th, 2012
2:25 AM
I love, love, love this recipe! Very easy to make and so much flavour. One of my favourite dishes to order when we are in Thailand!!
Tonya
May 22nd, 2012
7:44 PM
This is my all time favorite Thai dish! I spent 13 yrs in Atlanta where my FAV restaurant is and the lady cooks authentic Laos/Vietnamese food introduced me to this. She actually began to make mine with minced shrimp (as I have issues with eating ground meats-I don't cook myself) :) When I moved to Texas, no Thai restaurant there has even come close to my Atlanta Thai lady, so I have learned how to prepare this dish. My mom visited & every time I make this for her she is in awwww & goes back to ATL and tells the Thai lady ~ I'm getter better & better at it!
Rosie
June 20th, 2012
8:33 AM
We didn't know anything about Thai food until we met our friends from Thailand 7 years ago. We love the spices and aromatic herbs, and now we are big fans of their food and culture. We appreciate the fantastic website of ImportFood.com for posting and sharing delicious recipes. Good job guys !!!
Mary Ann
July 21st, 2012
5:24 PM
I have made this dish before and loved it. However, now I don't eat grains; what could I use instead of the rice flour? Could I toast potato starch? And you mentioned dressing the dish up with bean thread noodles; just soak, cut and add to the bowl with the other ingredients?
Thank you!
Maria
September 20th, 2012
12:16 AM
re the "roasted rice powder": toast raw long grain rice (I use ordinary Jasmine rice) dry, in a skillet (I use a cast iron skillet) until it turns light brown and begins smelling nutty. Then grind the toasted rice as fine or coarse as you want it (I use a coffee bean grinder on medium grind.)

(I've lived in Thailand; that's where I learned what the typical grind that the Thais use looks like. The toasted rice grind should have a bit of texture, but should be neither too coarse nor too fine (too powdery). It's easy to achieve. Good luck.
Jane
January 24th, 2013
3:10 PM
I have a question about the hot pepper. Just how hot is it? I realize how difficult it is to answer, but I can tolerate a bit of hot, but not a lot. Does the lime juice and the other other ingredients tone down the hot? I'm almost afraid to put it in the dishes for fear tht I won'[t be able to eat it. :) Thanks!
donna
April 3rd, 2013
8:18 PM
I used 3 fresh thai chilies instead of the powder and pug evrything into a food processor. It turn out AMAZING! My husband is laos and he said it tastes justlike what his mom makes
Dave Amorde
June 4th, 2013
7:05 PM
I was first served this dish, made with ground beef, in the form of a meat loaf in a restaurant on the way to River Kwai from Bangkok. I've been in love with it ever since. I've NEVER found a proper rendition here in the states, since restaurants don't usually bother with rice powder, and the proper recipe uses shallots, while restaurants will typically use only spring onion. My biggest hinderance in the past has been finding proper fresh ingredients, and this site has solved that problem. THANK YOU!!
Anonymous
January 16th, 2014
12:42 PM
Do you add lemon grass or galang?
Mr Pepper
August 13th, 2014
3:46 PM
Roasted rice powder can be made by simply cooking frying uncooked white rice. Once its brownded, just put it in a ziplock bag and smash to desired texture.
Dave Mac
November 26th, 2014
3:22 AM
This is one of my favorite Thai dishes, I probably eat it once a week... it's my "diet food". It has two things going for it not mentioned:
1. it's great with no rice, just as a chicken salad standalone, making it a kind of rare "Low Carb" thai meal!
2. It's fantastic cold from the fridge days later, so leftovers always are great.

I'm an airline pilot, and my favorite thing to do on layovers is pretty much walk around after looking at restaurant reviews on Google and Yelp, find local Thai restaurants, and try their food. Then go home and cook the variations myself. Because of this, I've had most of the "standard" dishes in hundreds of restaurants all across America, and so have a pretty broad data base for how these dishes vary from place to place, though I'm not a good source for authenticity in actual Thailand.
As a great lover of Laap or Larb, I will agree with other posters that this recipe is quite a good one, you can't go wrong using it.
However, I'll also agree with an above poster on the cilantro/ginger comment. Based on a review of quite a few recipes, I'd guess that the use of mint is probably the more "authentic" larb. But mint seems to be hard to get in the US in any quantity, and is expensive...At my grocery I'd have to pay $10 for enough mint for larb gai for 5, while enough cilantro is just 0.50 cents. I have to say that probably 70% of the time I order this dish it shows up without ANY mint, but instead shredded ginger and cilantro.
While cilantro/ginger may not be as authentic as mint, it CERTAINLY makes a nice "larb"--my kids literally ask for this in their lunchboxes for school when I make it. So I thought I'd throw in the "alternative" version:

Larb Gai with Cilantro and Ginger
1. 3 cups chopped chicken (2-3 breasts food processor rough cut, cook in 1qt boiling water briefly then scoop out... save liquid for soup!)
2. 1cup sliced shallots or (tasty but not as "true") purple onions or sweet onions.
3. 1 cup chopped cilantro.
4. 1/4 c thinly julienned or shredded ginger. Dont grate it fine.
5. Mix all with 3T lime juice and 2-3T fish sauce, sprinkle on 2T ground rice powder.

I let folks add the dried chile at table to taste.

Here's something I do that I've never seen in restaurant but like for longevity:
After scooping lightly boiled chicken from water, QUICKLY blanch the shallots/red-Onions and the ginger, like 5 seconds only, then remove. For cilantro, literally hold stems and just dunk in the water...it wilts a bit but is good in the salad. When you serve it, just chop some fresh cilantro and toss in also.
The advantage of this is threefold: first, the entire salad has been "pasteurized" and will last in fridge for 1.5 weeks, AND will last in a school lunchbox with just an ice pack. Second, the harsh bite of the ginger and shallots is just SLIGHTLY tamed, making this a much more approachable dish to a guest not wanting to eat a cup of raw shallots (which let's face it is 90% of American non-Thaifood-lovers). Third, you have just created a quart or so of FANTASTIC soup stock, and if you toss back in some of the chicken you can have Thom kha gai in like 3 minutes more.

Instant meal of soup and salad, comprising two of the most favorite and well known dishes, it's a great way to introduce friends to Thai cooking!
Kudos to ImportFood again for my favorite site on the internet, your outstanding videos, and the smoothest and most likable narration voice in the biz ;)

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