Laab is a type of meat salad typical from Laos and Northern Thailand. The dish has many variations and can be made with different types of meat. We learned this Laab recipe in Laos, an aromatic and refreshing version of chicken salad.
Learn other versions of Laab here.
Recipe: Laab Gai – Southeast Asian Chicken Salad
- 150 g chicken meat – ground or finely chopped (like a tartare)
- 1 clove garlic – minced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce – can be substituted by soy sauce
- 2-3 green onions – chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass – only the white part – finely chopped
- ½ purple onion – thin slices
- 1 tbsp cilantro – stalks and leaves – chopped
- 1 tbsp saw coriender – chopped
- 1 tbsp basil – preference to Thai basil
- ½ cup mint leaves – chopped
- 1 tbsp ginger – grated
- 1 tbsp fresh red chilli – chopped
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp red chilli flakes
- 1 tbsp glutinous rice / sticky rice – see details and substitutes in tips session (below)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 cups bean sprouts – optional
- Salt to taste
Roasted and ground glutinous rice (Khao kua) preparation
- Heat a skillet over medium heat, add the sticky rice grains in the pan. Note: no oil is required.
- Toast the rice until it turns into golden brown. (Note: stir the rice in the pan all the time to avoid burning it).
- With the help of a mortar and pestle (or a food processor), mash the rice into powder.
- Note: You can make a larger amount and store it in a pot for future preparations. It can be used as a thickener for soups and curries, it also goes very well with sour fruits.
Bean sprouts preparation
- Put water to boil in a saucepan.
- When boil, add the bean sprout and cook it for 1 min.
- Remove, drain and set aside.
Laab Gai preparation
- Medium heat a wok. When it gets warm, drizzle the oil and saute the grounded chicken along with garlic, salt and a little bit of the fish sauce.
- When cooked, transfer it to a bowl.
- In the bowl, combine the sautéed chicken with all the other ingredients in the respective order. First the dry ingredients: roasted rice powder, herbs, lemon grass, purple onion, ginger, chilli, and bean sprout.
- Then, add the rest of the fish sauce and finally the lemon juice.
- Mix well and serve it on a plate with green leaves.
- This dish has two secrets – the first one is to finely cut everything, from chicken meat to herbs.
- The second secret is the roasted rice powder (Khao Kua), it brings texture and a nutty and complex aroma to the salad.
- You can find glutinous rice/sticky rice in Asian food stores.
- If not, you can substitute for another type of rice rich in starch, such as arborio (risotto rice) or bomba (paella rice). In the last case, you can replace it by nut or almond, following the same preparation steps: toast and grind.
- Other versions: Laab Moo is made with pork. The vegetarian version that is made with mushrooms (Laab Hed) is also delicious.
Serve with rice and Som Tam (green papaya salad).