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How to Make Larb Gai. Thai Spicy Chicken Salad Recipe (Food from Isaan) It's Easy!

Updated on October 9, 2010

Larb gai (chicken larb) is a much loved Thai dish originating out of the North Eastern part of the country, Isaan. It's great with sticky rice and some crunchy vegetables as a garnish and although it tastes quite complex, it's actually very easy to make. It's also something less commonly seen on Thai restaurant menus outside of Thailand – which adds to the fun and adventure of it all!

It is important here to use chicken with the skin-on. Boneless skinless chicken breasts will make a too dry and not flavorful larb. Once the skin is minced finely, no one will really notice it anyway.

Larb Gai

  • 2 cups of finely chopped raw skin-on chicken breast. You can use ground chicken if you would prefer, but chopping the chicken finely with a knife gives a better texture. If you have a cleaver, you can use it to whack/mince the chicken to great effect here!
  • 3 shallots finely sliced (You want between ¼ and 1/3 of a cup of shallot here). You can substitute red onion or even white onion if you don't have shallots.
  • 2 green onions, chopped finely, white part and all
  • ¼ cup of mint leaves, plucked from their stems
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf, chopped small
  • 2-3 Tbls of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3 Tbls of fish sauce
  • 2-3 Tbls of toasted dried rice (To make toasted rice - add a cup full of uncooked white rice to a large and heavy fry pan or skillet and over medium heat, stir the rice until it turns golden brown. Puree the rice in a blender or in the spice grinder attachment for your blender. This will keep well for a long time in your pantry and is very worth making for a tasty laarb!)
  • Dried chili – to taste. The amount you will use depends entirely on the heat of the chili and your like or dislike of spicy food.
  • A pinch of MSG (Omit if you want, but in Thailand it would most normally be used)

3 Very Easy Steps

  1. In a wok (or fry pan or whatever) add a half cup or so of water and toss in the kitchen and bring the water to a boil, stirring for about 1 minute, or until the finely minced chicken is cooked through.
  2. Remove from the heat and mix together all remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more fish sauce (salty), lime juice or dried chili as needed.
  3. Serve with steamed jasmine rice or sticky rice. Larb is normally served with lots of crunchy raw vegetables and goes very well with wedges of white cabbage, sweet basil sprigs, long Thai green beans and cucumber slices.



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    • lilyfly profile image

      Lillian K. Staats 

      7 years ago from Wasilla, Alaska

      Thank you, I think I'll try to make it! I mean, one has to try new stuff, right? lilyfly

    • DixieMockingbird profile image

      Jan Charles 

      8 years ago from East Tennessee

      Hey John - I loved reading your recipe, and it sounds great! I too adore larb, and it took me a while to figure out how to produce it. I do it often now - in fact, I even made it into a burger.

      I have to say though - I use boneless, skinless ground chicken all the time, and never have a problem with it drying out. May I suggest just cranking the heat up on your skillet or wok, and getting ready to cook in serious hurry? The quick cooking keeps the flavor and juices intact, and you can use the lower fat options? Thanks for your info - and I look forward to reading more!

    • John D Lee profile imageAUTHOR

      John D Lee 

      8 years ago

      Hi Mr Nice,

      Larb gai is pretty tasty stuff!

      I own my own restaurant in Chiang Mai, called The Salsa Kitchen - although you won't find too many spicy Thai dishes on the menu here, as it is a Mexican place!

    • Mr Nice profile image

      Mr Nice 

      8 years ago from North America

      Swadee John D Lee,

      Your recipes look Alay ching ching(very delicious). Larb gai is one of my favorite Thai dishes. I visit Thailand often, I was in Bangkok in 2008 summer and this summer I am visiting again. This time I will visit Chiang mai too. Do you work for someone or own your own restaurant in Chiang mai? Kharp khun ma khrap.


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