Laotian Chicken Larb

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By Published On: September 10th, 2021

Larb is an extraordinary salad, a national treasure of Laos and it’s not hard to see why. Ground chicken is seasoned to perfection with aromatics and spice – a fresh, zingy pop of flavour. Larb is a truly unique dish to make at home.

Ground chicken combined with Laotian aromatics and spices to a form a dry, spicy chicken salad. The platter sits on a colourful, floral tablecloth - like the kind you find in South East Asian markets.

Laotian Chicken Larb is a simple, healthy and supercharged salad that’s jam packed with personality. Larb, sometimes pronounced laap, larp, lahb or laab is a National dish of Laos but often its heritage is attributed to Thailand, where it’s also widely consumed.

There are many different varieties of larb using chicken, pork, duck, fish and mushrooms - and unique styles that use raw or cooked meat. Some varieties feature animal blood, intestines and even bile as ingredients, but the most palatable to Western taste, and the type we see in most Laos and Thai restaurants is poached or fried ground meat combined with herbal and fragrant and spicy ingredients.

Larb is a sour, salty and herbal combination. It can also be insanely spicy - I ate a Thai version in Bangkok one time that I thought might end my life. I sweated it out in a corner with a red face and sheer panic in my eyes! It was so delicious!

Needless to say, you can dial the chilli heat up or down in your version, I keep mine fairly spicy so add a fair few chillies.

The key flavours of Larb

The key flavours and ingredients of larb ensure an authentic experience. You can substitute some for more readily available ingredients and still have a great dish. There’s a full recipe below…

  • Toasted rice - probably the most important ingredient in a larb is the toasted rice. Glutinous rice is dry toasted in a pan until light brown, then roughly ground in a pestle & mortar or spice grinder into a coarse powder. This nuttiness is ESSENTIAL in any larb and brings an amazing flavour and texture to the dish. As a substitute to glutinous rice, use jasmine or long grain
  • Fish Sauce - Padaek is the Laos version of fermented fish sauce, the Thai version in Pla Ra. It’s a muddy brown sauce that is potent in smell with a salty, umami explosion of flavour. Regular Thai fish sauce, the kind most easily found in supermarkets, will also give great results, so don’t feel you MUST hunt out Padaek.
  • Vegetables - Shallots bring a little crunch to the salad, I add a couple of spring onions too.
  • Herbs - Mint is the go to to add fragrance. Cilantro is also added and on occasion, holy basil (Thai basil).
  • Chillies - Small, red Thai chillies are the most authentic. Depending on how hot they are (they can be ferocious) I’ll add anywhere between 2-5 - I keep the seeds in for extra heat. You can obviously add less and deseed to keep things civilised!
  • Dressing - To balance out the heat, a sweet and sour dressing is created using lime juice and palm sugar (you can use regular sugar too).
Ground chicken combined with Laotian aromatics and spices to a form a dry, spicy chicken salad. The platter sits on a colourful, floral tablecloth - like the kind you find in South East Asian markets.

Serving Laotian Chicken Larb

Larb can be served as an appetiser or main course and as part of a larger feast. Typically it’s served alongside sticky rice and raw vegetables, such as cabbage, beans, carrot and eggplant. I mostly serve mine with sticky rice parcels or jasmine rice and some crunchy lettuce to use like lettuce cups.

I also make a little more toasted rice and serve it on the side, because it’s SO DELICIOUS!

Make a meal of it...

Here are a few suggestions of other delicious Laos and Thai dishes that would work well alongside the larb salad.

How to make Laotian Chicken Larb

Ground chicken combined with Laotian aromatics and spices to a form a dry, spicy chicken salad. The platter sits on a colourful, floral tablecloth - like the kind you find in South East Asian markets.

Laotian Chicken Larb

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Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings (adjustable) 4
Calories (per serving) | 297

Ingredients

For the dressing

  • 2 tbsp glutinous rice (raw) or jasmine or long grain rice
  • 2 tbsp Fish Sauce (or Padaek/Nam Pla - if you can find it)
  • 2 tbsp mild chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar (or white sugar)
  • ½ lime (juice of)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 garlic clove (very finely chopped)

For the salad

  • 14 oz ground chicken (400g) (minced)
  • cup shallots (sliced)
  • ¼ cup cilantro (roughly chopped)
  • ¼ cup mint (roughly chopped)
  • 2 spring onions (sliced)
  • 2 Thai chillies (finely sliced)
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf (very finely shredded)
  • white pepper
  • cup roasted peanuts (unsalted, chopped roughly)
  • 1 romaine lettuce (optional)

Instructions

To make the dressing

  • Add the rice to a dry frying pan and toast for about 2-3 minutes, tossing to evenly brown the grains until golden. Remove from the pan and add to a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.
    Grind the rice into a coarse powder, like freshly ground black pepper.
    Set aside.
  • Combine all the other dressing ingedients and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in about half of the rice powder and set everything aside.

To make the salad

  • Add the chicken to a pan along with about ½ cup water. Spread the chicken evenly across the pan. Turn on the heat to medium and bring to a simmer without stirring. Let is simmer for 1 minute before carefully flipping over the ground chicken. Gently break it into small chunks. You're looking for it to clump together a little and not turn into mush. Break up any large clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.
    After about 5 minutes, when you can see no pink from the chicken, remove from the heat and leave to cool completely.
  • Once cooled, drain the excess water from the chicken. Tip the chicken into a bowl. Stir in the shallots, cilantro, mint, spring onions, chillies, kaffir lime leaf and white pepper. Pour in the dressing and stir well.
  • Decant to a serving bowl or platter and scatter generously with the chopped peanuts.
  • Serve at room temperature with romaine lettuce leaves (optional) to make cups with. On the side, serve lime wedges and more of the ground rice to sprinkle over each serving.
    Alternatively, serve with sticky or jasmine rice and crunchy raw vegetables on the side.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Laotian Chicken Larb
Amount Per Serving
Calories 297 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 3g19%
Trans Fat 1g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 6g
Cholesterol 85mg28%
Sodium 903mg39%
Potassium 842mg24%
Carbohydrates 21g7%
Fiber 4g17%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 23g46%
Vitamin A 1457IU29%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 60mg6%
Iron 3mg17%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course | Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine | Laoatian, Thai
Keyword | Chicken Larb, Larb Salad
Ground chicken combined with Laotian aromatics and spices to a form a dry, spicy chicken salad. The platter sits on a colourful, floral tablecloth - like the kind you find in South East Asian markets.

Did you make my Laotian Chicken Larb

How did you go? Let me know in the comments below and be sure to tag @cookeatworld at Instagram.

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