Larb gai is a dish of ground chicken, mint, basil and red onions dressed with lime juice and ground red chilies. It’s a distinctive kind of salad featuring ingredients like ground chicken, vegetables and sticky rice. This is one of the most prominent dishes in Laotian and Northern Thai cuisines. It most likely originated in Laos, yet it is also very popular in Northeast Thailand. Each region's Larb Gai recipe is slightly different, reflecting differences in taste and style.While Thai recipes emphasize dried seasonings, the Laotian version uses fresh mint and lime juice. I have been making a spiced up Laotian style of the dish by using fresh herbs and a small Serrano pepper to give it a little extra flare.
MAKING LARB GAI
10 Ounces Ground Chicken ½ Cup Sushi Rice 1 Lime 1 Persian Cucumber ½ Pound Green Cabbage 1 Red Onion 1 Bunch Mint 2 Tablespoons Golden Mountain Sauce 1 Tablespoon Coconut Palm Sugar 1 Serrano Chile Pepper ¼ Cup Peanuts
In a small pot, combine the rice, a big pinch of salt and a cup of water. Heat to boil. Once boiling, cover and reduce the heat to low, simmering for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Remove the rice from the heat and fluff it with a fork.
Then wash and dry the fresh produce. Use a peeler to remove the green rind of the lime to get 2 teaspoons of zest. Then peel and thinly slice the red onion. Also thinly slice the cucumber. Pick the mint leaves off the stems and cut out and discard the cabbage core, slicing the cabbage into 1-inch-wide strips. Cut off and discard the Serrano pepper stem and thinly slice the pepper into rounds. To keep the spicyness from overwhelming the dish, I remove the seeds from the pepper. But this is a personal choice so you can decide whether or not to add the seeds, depending on how spicy you want the dish. Just make sure to keep your hands from touching any body parts, and make sure to wash them and the cutting board immediately after handling the pepper.
As you sip your glass of wine or beer, cook the ground chicken in about 2 tablespoon of oil. Make sure to heat the oil first and then add the meat, stirring it until it is lightly brown.
Once it's cooked, transfer it to a bowl, and use the same pan to cook your red onions and the Serrano pepper. This should take about 2-3 minutes. (I have been cooking the onions, the Serrano and the meat together, but again this is up to you. If you do cook them all combines, make sure to cook the onions first and then add the meat and the Serrano.)
Then move all three into a bowl and add in the lime zest, palm sugar, Golden Mountain sauce, and the juice of two lime wedges while seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the dish by dividing the cooked rice and larb gai between 2 plates. And finish by garnishing with chopped peanuts and mint leaves. Serve the cabbage and cucumber on the side. You can also use collars or any other green with big leaves that can pocket the meat. The last few times I made this dish, I actually skipped making the rice and told everyone to just use the big cabbage leaves to wrap the meat and eat it.