This is one of those meals that will make you forget you’re eating healthy. Dinner on the table in just over 15 minutes that is loaded with fragrance, a hit of spice and full of freshness. Eat it with your hands like a wrap (I do!) or be more civil and spoon it over rice!
Thai is one of the most popular Asian foods in Sydney. Noodles, curries and soups, coconut coated prawns and crunchy, juicy pork belly. But when you feel like something lighter but still loaded with Thai flavours, these Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups are fabulous.
Larb Gai, Laab Gai, Lahb Gai, Laap Gai…….searching for a recipe like this where the name has been interpreted in so many different ways is always interesting! Depending on what you search will return a myriad of results!
This recipe is adapted from a fabulous new food blog I discovered recently by a fellow Australia blogger, Amanda from Chew Town. I made a few small changes to her recipe to make a bit more sauce and make it a bit thicker which is how I usually make Larb Gai, but the thickening is truly an optional step. Oh, and I topped it off with a sprinkle of peanuts – again, also optional!
I think most people are more civil than me and will spoon the chicken over rice. But I’m a fan of anything I can get away with eating with my hands. So I fold it up like a wrap and eat it just like that! Sometimes I add a scoop of rice on top, too. 🙂
I made this with chicken mince (ground chicken) because that’s what I had in my freezer. But it is just as commonly made with pork mince and even with beef. Serve it up with a bowl of rice on the side and you’ll have a satisfying meal that’s packed full of flavour and yet it’s healthy!
Amanda is spot on when she says “It is spectacularly spicy, fragrant, fresh and crunchy with a spot on combination of salty and sweet…..Larb Gai is such a great healthy and fragrant meal and I’m convinced you’ll actually feel healthier after trying (it)”.
I don’t have any thing to add to that. 🙂
PS I think a variation on this that would make a great appetiser would be to serve this in baked wonton cups! Let me know if you’d like me to share a recipe. 🙂
- 2 tbsp uncooked rice (any rice is fine) OR 2 tsp cornstarch / corn flour (optional) (Note 1)
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 1/2 tbsp lime juice (1 to 2 limes)
- 1 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp peanut oil (or other high smoke point cooking oil)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger , grated or very finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 lemon grass stalk , white and very pale green part only, finely chopped (Note 1)
- 2 birds eye chilli , deseeded and finely chopped (adjust to taste)
- 1 lb / 500g lean chicken mince (ground chicken)
- 1/2 red onion , cut into 4 wedges then finely sliced
- 1/3 cup cilantro / coriander leaves , plus extra to garnish
- 1/3 cup mint leaves , plus extra to garnish
- 3 tbsp crushed peanuts (optional)
- 4 large or 8 small lettuce leaves , to serve (I used iceberg)
Optional step: Heat a wok (or heavy based fry pan) over high heat. Add the rice and dry cook for 5 minutes until it turns dark golden brown. Remove into a mortar and pestle and ground into powder.
Place water and rice powder OR cornstarch (if using) into a small bowl. Mix into a slurry. Add lime juice, fish sauce and sugar and mix to combine. Set aside.
Heat peanut oil in a wok (or heavy based fry pan) over medium high heat. Add ginger, garlic, lemongrass and chilli and sauté for 45 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant. Do not let the garlic burn, it will taste bitter.
Add the chicken and turn up the heat to high. Cook the chicken, breaking up the mince into small pieces.
Once the chicken turns white and is almost cooked through (about 4 minutes), add the sauce from Step 2. Cook for 45 seconds to 1 minute to coat the chicken and for the sauce to thicken.
Remove wok from heat. Stir through onion, coriander/cilantro and mint.
Spoon into lettuce cups and serve. Garnish with extra mint, coriander/cilantro leaves and peanuts, if using.
Alternatively, serve the Larb in bowls with the lettuce cups on the side so people can help themselves.
1. The traditional way in Thailand to thicken sauces is to toast then grind rice. A quicker way to do this is to use cornstarch / cornflour so I have provided directions for this too.
But this is an optional step. It makes a difference because the sauce coats the chicken a bit better. But it isn't critical!
2. Peel the stringy, tough, outside layers off the lemongrass and just use the bottom 7 - 10cm / 3 to 4" of he lemongrass.
3. This can be eaten with your hands by folding the lettuce leaves around the filling, or over rice. It can also be served as appetisers by using very small lettuce leaves.
4. Nutrition assumes 3 servings and that this is made using chicken breast mince.