Laab gai: easy recipe for the classic Thai chicken salad that always triumphs
He laab It is a type of salad originating in the Northwest of Thailand –in the Isan region– that is prepared with minced meat and a powerful dressing, spicy, sour and salty, with a great contrast of flavors.
Although it is a very popular dish in Southeast Asia, it is still little known in the West, despite the fact that its ingredients are already easy to find in any city.
We have followed the recipe that Alejandro Zurdo shares in his book Comiendo en las calles de Asia. The Spanish chef, whom we recently interviewed, has kicked himself all over Southeast Asia and, while acknowledging that the cuisine of this region of the world is not easy to emulate for Westerners, he believes that particular Thai salads should be the first option to enter in your kitchen.
Don't be scared by the ingredient list. Fish sauce is already found in any neighborhood Eastern or Latin American supermarket, toasted rice powder can be made very easily at home (we will explain how to do this immediately), bird's eye chili can be substituted by any other fresh chili pepper and the Chinese spring onion, perhaps the most difficult to find, is very simulate to our spring onion or tender onion.
In its original version this recipe is quite spicy. If you feel bad or not to your liking, you just have to reduce the amount of chili a little.
IngredientsFor 4 people
- Chicken minced meat 400 g
- Tablespoons chicken broth 4
- Medium red onion
- Chinese (or normal) chive 2
- Bird's eye chili (or other fresh chili) 1
- Fresh coriander
- Fresh mint
- Teaspoon roasted rice powder 1
- Ground black pepper
- Tablespoons Asian fish sauce 2
- Lime juice tablespoons 2
- Teaspoons sugar 2
- Tablespoon water 1
How to make Laab gai, Thai chicken saladDifficulty: easy
- Total time 20 m
- Elaboration 10 m
- Cooking 10 m
First chop the red onion into julienne strips very fine and put it in cold water so that it loses strength while you do the rest of the elaborations.
If you can't find roasted rice powder - sold in Asian supermarkets - you can do it very easily at home. It is enough to heat a frying pan without oil to low temperature and pour a good handful of long rice. The rice should be roasted slowly without burning. Once all the rice is brown, it should be finely chopped in a coffee or spice grinder. For this recipe we only need two teaspoons, but it can be kept in a pot like any other spice for a long time.
In a frying pan (if it is large, serve the same one in which you toasted the rice) put the chicken stock and let it heat up. Then add the minced meat and cook slowly. We are interested in it being juicy, so it is better to cook it over low heat so that it does not caramelize. Season it to taste, remove it from the heat and let it temper.
In a large bowl, mix the red onion (which will have lost power), the chives cut into fine rings, the chopped chili, and two good handfuls of chopped coriander and mint. Add the meat and the chili flakes.
The dressing of this salad is the one that usually carry all the Thai salads. Mix the fish sauce, lime juice, water and sugar, and stirring well with a teaspoon. We can do more if we plan to use it for other elaborations, but for this salad four tablespoons are enough (although it is good to have more on hand to add to taste).
Incorporate the rice powder and mix all the ingredients with the dressing and let the salad rest a few minutes before serving.