Larb (also spelled lahb)—a style of spicy, herbaceous salad with ground pork or chicken, sliced shallot, rice powder, and a savory dressing of fish sauce, soy, and citrus—originated in Laos, Thailand’s small, landlocked neighbor to the north. Recipes proliferated south, though, and Thailand now considers larb a national dish, one you’ll also find on almost every Thai menu stateside. If you want the chicken version in a restaurant, you will ask for larb gai. With ground pork? That’s larb moo. In New Orleans, Thailand native Supreeya Scarmuzza serves a standout version at her SukhoThai locations, one in Marigny and one in Uptown.
Larb Gai (Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main)
½ lb. ground chicken breast
2 tbsp. water
2 tbsp. ground roasted rice powder (recipe follows)
1½ tbsp. fish sauce
½ to 1 tbsp. ground red chili pepper, depending on desired heat level
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 heads shallots, thinly sliced
30 mint leaves, half sliced, half whole
4 big white cabbage leaves
½ cucumber, sliced in rounds, optional
Sliced red onion, optional
For the rice powder
2 tbsp. white jasmine rice
Add chicken and water to a skillet over medium-high heat and pan fry until cooked. Set cooked chicken aside in a mixing bowl.
To make the rice powder, add jasmine rice to a skillet over low heat and gently toast until light brown. Remove and grind in a coffee grinder or pound in a mortar and pestle, until ultra-fine.
In a bowl, add fish sauce, chili pepper, and lemon juice, and whisk to combine. Add shallots and sliced mint leaves. Stir to combine.
Pour dressing over the chicken and sprinkle with roasted rice powder. Toss all in mixing bowl till well combined.
Use the large cabbage leaves as a bowl, and scoop meat salad mixture into each one, topping with the whole mint leaves. Add sliced cucumbers and onions around plate, if desired. Serve immediately.
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