This chicken larb salad is like Pop Rocks Candy with layers of textures and amazing punchy flavours that unravel in your mouth with each bite. Originating in Laos and evolving through neighbouring cuisines, this salad is made with different types of minced meat, fish sauce, lots of fresh lime juice, chilli and raw vegetables. Herbs like coriander, Thai basil, and mint can be tossed through the salad.
I usually make my larb with chicken and lots of fresh vegetables I have on hand. The recipe calls for some ingredients you might not usually have in your shopping basket, like lemongrass or coconut aminos, but they are very easy to find in specialty stores and online. I do suggest having some fish sauce and tamari wheat-free or gluten free, naturally brewed soy sauce in your pantry – I find I use them in a lot of dishes. Coconut aminos is a sauce made from coconut sap, it has a slightly sweet flavour and resembles soy sauce. You can read more about it here.
If you can’t find coconut aminos, use some palm sugar or honey for that little extra sweetness that you need in the authentic larb. Palm sugar is made from the sap of the palm tree which is collected and boiled down to thicken. It comes as a hard block of brown looking sugar which can be grated or sliced. Like raw honey, I think of palm sugar as a natural sweetener and I use a little bit for baking or in Asian dishes. If you’re concerned about having any sugar at all, remember that we’re only using 1-2 tablespoons for the WHOLE salad so you’re looking at a small quantity per serving, like 3-4 grams.
Notes: This salad is very easy to make once you get past all the chopping :) You can toast/roast coconut flakes and cashews in a frying pan over medium heat for about two minutes, or do it in the oven. Keep an eye as both can burn quickly.
The pictures don’t show the full salad and the recipe makes quite a lot so you will have enough to feed a family or to save as leftovers for lunch. You could serve it with a side of green vegetables and mushrooms in oyster sauce or some stir-fried cauliflower rice. You can add a little sweet potato to increase the carbohydrate intake. And of course for those of you including white rice or white rice noodles, this salad would pair brilliantly.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Feel free to replace chicken with beef, pork, duck or even prawns.
- 1 stem lemon grass, pale section only, finely diced
- 1 long red chilli, finely diced with the seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, finely diced
- Small nob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
- ½ bunch of coriander/cilantro stems washed and finely chopped (I don't waste anything, save the leaves for the salad)
- 450 g / 1lb ground chicken mince
- Zest of ½ lime, grated
- 2½ tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 1 tbs tamari wheat -free soy sauce, or other gluten free, naturally brewed soy sauce (or replace with extra coconut aminos)
- Juice of ½ lime
- A pinch of sea salt
- Coconut oil for frying (about 3 tablespoons)
- If you have it, a few leaves of kaffir lime leaves chopped up are also a nice addition
- ¼ head of red cabbage, thinly shredded (white is also fine)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- ½ red onion, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped green spring onions (about 2 spring onions/scallions)
- ½ bunch of fresh coriander leaves (saved from the stems used in the chicken)
- A handful of fresh mint or Thai basil if available
- ½ cup crashed roasted cashews or some sesame seeds
- ½ cup dried fried shallots (optional for garnish, available from Asian grocers)
- 2 tablespoons toasted coconut flakes (optional for garnish)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon grated palm sugar or 1 teaspoon honey
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos or tamari sauce
- 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (you can leave it out if you like it mild)
- Prepare the ingredients for the chicken. Then heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large frying pan or a wok over high heat. Throw in lemongrass, chili, garlic, ginger and coriander stems and stir fry for about a minute until fragrant.
- Add the chicken mince and lime zest. Stir and break apart the mince with a wooden mixing spoon until separated into small chunks (this might take a while as chicken mince is quite sticky). The meat will now be changing to white colour. Add the fish sauce, coconut aminos, tamari and lime juice. Stir through and cook for a further few minutes. Total cooking time for the chicken should be about 10 minutes.
- Prepare the salad base by mixing together the red cabbage, onion, grated carrot, and fresh herbs.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and toss through the salad.
- Serve the cooked chicken mince on top of the dressed salad and topped with roasted cashews, dried shallots, coconut flakes and extra fresh herbs. I often just mix everything together :)
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