Thai Chicken Salad Recipe (Laab Gai)
This is one of three recipes offered on our site for variations on Laab - a type of delicious spicy meat salad originating from the Northeast region of Thailand (the Isan region). Serve this salad at room temperature with steamed sticky rice and steamed or raw vegetables. Laab is traditionally very spicy and sour but the recipes here are moderate in heat. You may of course add or subtract seasoning according to your own tastes.
Spicy Minced Chicken Salad with Mint and Toasted Rice (Laab Gai)
- 1 lb. boneless chicken, chopped or ground
- 1 Tbs. peanut oil
- 6 cloves garlic, minced and pounded to a paste
- 1 stalk lemon grass (optional), trimmed and sliced into thin rounds or chopped
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 2 green onions (use white part only), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 2 small pieces dried galanga, toasted and then ground finely
- 2-4 tsp. ground roasted dried Thai chillies
- 3+ Tbs. fish sauce (nam bplah), to taste
- Juice of 2-3 limes, to desired sourness
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. sugar as needed to balance flavors
- 2 Tbs. ground roasted rice
- An assortment of raw or lightly steamed vegetables and aromatic herbs, such as: sprigs of various tropical basils and mints, green beans/long beans Thai eggplant, cabbage morning glory/water cress, cucumber/squash/zucchini lettuce etc.
Cook the chopped or ground chicken in a little bit of oil in a wok until thoroughly cooked, breaking into small bits. Set aside.
Prepare the garlic, lemon grass (if using), shallot, green onions and mint. Toast the galanga in a small dry pan over medium heat until the pieces are darkened and slightly charred. Let cool before grinding in a clean coffee grinder to a fine powder. Then roast a handful of whole dried Thai chillies in the pan, turning frequently until they are darkened and slightly charred. Grind into a fine powder.
Toss the cooked chicken with the garlic, lemon grass, shallot, green onion, mint, ground toasted galanga and chillies, fish sauce and lime juice. Mix well. Taste and adjust flavors to desired sourness, hotness and saltiness. Add sugar only as needed to pull the flavors together. Toss the toasted rice powder into the mixture and serve salad at room temperature with a tray of assorted vegetables and herbs.
Recipe © 1997 Kasma Loha-unchit; Image © 2010, laughingmango/iStockphoto.com