If you have never experienced larb in any of your favorite Thai restaurants, you must. Larb is typically seen in an appetizer section, or possibly a salad section of a menu. Larb can be done using pork, beef, or chicken, and when you make with any of these meats, you will understand the simple, yet complex flavors of Thai food.
I first encountered larb while living in Dallas and hanging out with my friend Kevin. Kevin and I would frequent his favorite Thai restaurant and do all of the ordering as he was familiar with the cuisine, and language at the time. It was always a real treat to dine with him. He knew how to balance the dishes making the entire meal complete. We would typically start with cold beer, and a bowl of peanuts. Often times we would move onto dishes like larb, fried whole fish, and other really good Thai dishes. All of them were balanced with sweet, salt, and spice.
Larb is something I really like to make. It is a perfect snack, any time of the day. It is kid friendly (minus the chile peppers), and it is a perfect dish to eat with jasmine rice, or better yet, sticky rice.
Ingredients: [Print this Recipe]
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 lb of ground chicken
- 2 shallots, minced (approximately 3 tbsp)
- 1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 1/3 cup of toasted rice powder
- 2-5 Thai chile peppers, minced
- 3 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tbsp palm sugar, or regular sugar
- 1 whole lime, juiced
- Cooked rice, jasmine or sticky rice
You can find all of these ingredients are your local Asian store.
Begin by adding the oil to a large skillet and warm it to a medium, high heat. Once the oil is heated, add the ground chicken and begin cooking until it is fully cooked. This is will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
During this time, prepare the remaining ingredients. If you have never toasted rice before, add about 1/2 cup of rice to a dry skillet. Bring it to medium heat, and give it a good shake about every 2-3 minutes. Your goal is to brown the rice, and once brown, add it to a coffee grinder to make into a course powder.
Once the chicken is fully cooked, make sure you break it all up with a wooden spoon as you do not want any clumps. Drain off any excess water from the chicken, then add the chicken to a mixing bowl.
Add in all of the remaining ingredients, and give it a good mix. If you are serving kids, I would suggest removing the chile peppers from this recipe, or divide the mixture before adding the chile peppers. I would recommend 1-2 chile peppers for the mild at heart, and 3-4 chile peppers for those that love the heat. Regardless if it is one chile or four, the balance is perfect.
Serve in a small bowl with a side of rice. My entire family loves larb. It is just packed with flavor. That sweet, salty, and spice is just something out of this world, and I think you would agree. Better yet, you have just had something you have never tried before, toasted rice. Well, and maybe even fish sauce or sticky rice.