Recipe: Chicken larb salad with red cabbage
This chicken larb salad is like Pop Rocks Candy – layers of textures and amazing punchy flavours 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, chili and raw vegetables. Herbs like coriander,Thai basil, and mint can be used to toss 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. You should really have 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.
If you can’t find coconut aminos, use some palm sugar for that little 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.
Note: 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 on medium heat for 1-2 minutes or in the oven. Keep an eye as they can burn quickly.
This picture doesn’t show ALL of the salad. The recipe makes quite a lot so you will have enough to feed a family or to save as leftovers for lunch. I would normally serve it with a side of green vegetables and mushrooms in oyster sauce or some stir-fried cauliflower. You can add a little sweet potato to increase the carb intake.
For the chicken:
- 450g chicken mince, free range of course
- 1 long red chili, finely chopped with the seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- Little nob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stem lemon grass, pale section only, finely chopped
- 1/2 bunch of coriander stems washed and finely chopped (I don’t waste anything, save the leaves for the salad)
- 2 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbs coconut aminos
- 1 tbs tamari wheat free soy sauce, or gluten free, naturally brewed soy sauce (or replace with extra coconut aminos)
- 1/2 lime rind grated
- 1/2 lime, juiced
- 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
- 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 1/2 Spanish onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp green spring onion, chopped
- 1/2 bunch of fresh coriander leaves (saved from the stems used in the chicken)
- A handful of fresh mint or Thai basil if available
- 1/2 cup crashed roasted cashews or some seasame seeds
- 1/2 cup dried fried shallots (optional for garnish)
- 2 tbsp toasted coconut flakes (optional for garnish)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp grated palm sugar or 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos or tamari
- 1 small red chili, finely chopped (you can leave it out if you like it mild)
- Once you’ve prepared all your ingredients for the chicken, heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a large frying pan or a wok to high. Throw in lemongrass, chili, garlic, coriander stems and ginger and stir fry for about a minute until fragrant. Add 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 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 sliced red cabbage, onion grated carrot, and fresh herbs.
- Mix all dressing ingredients and toss through the salad.
- Serve 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 :)
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Number of servings: 4
I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Feel free to replace chicken with beef, pork or duck – it works just as well.