Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Larb Gai - fresh and herb-laden Thai chicken salad

Larb, at least as I've come to know it, is a fresh, herb-laden Thai salad, with finely minced or ground lean chicken, lemongrass, mint, cilantro, and lots of lime. Toasted rice powder is a traditional topping, for toasty flavor and a little crunch, but toasted sesame seeds do the trick for me. It's fresh, light, and healthy, and you can put it together while the rice is steaming. You can eat it as a lettuce wrap with rice, or do as my husband does, and mix it all up. It's tasty either way.

This is really made best during the summer, when herbs are fresh, plentiful, and cheap, and the romaine is crisp and sweet. But it had been a while, and I was had a craving for it, so I indulged my need for something so light and fresh tasting.

2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 lb lean chicken, finely diced or ground
1/2 tsp fresh minced lemongrass
1 lime
Dash fish sauce (I like Squid brand)
1 tsp chili sauce, or to taste
3 TB fresh chopped mint
3 TB fresh chopped cilantro
salt to taste
sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
8-10 lettuce leaves, such as romaine or butter lettuce.
fresh steamed rice
In a skillet over medium low heat, cook lemongrass and shallots until soft. Add chicken, breaking up with a spoon. When halfway cooked, about 4 minutes, add juice of 1/2 a lime, chile paste, and fish sauce. Finish cooking, turn off heat, and add 2 TB each mint and cilantro, and toss until herbs wilt. Season to taste, top with remaining fresh herbs, and pass extra lime, sesame seeds, and chile paste as desired. Serve with rice and lettuce leaves.

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