[thechat] Recipe: Laab Kai (Thai hot n' sour chicken salad)

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Sun Oct 6 14:36:01 CDT 2002

Laab, a hot n' sour salad, is a popular street food in Thailand. It's also
very low in fat, but bursts with flavour. If you want a circus on your
tongue, try Laab. It's also made very quickly - less than 10 minutes if you
work fast.

Laab is traditionally made with beef (when it's called Laab Neua) and in
some parts of Northern Thailand, the beef is left raw. Laab Kai is the
chicken version. You can substitute beef if you wish, or even use leftover
roast beef.

I've modified this version to my liking (the lemon grass, for instance), so
it may not match other recipes exactly.

Serves: 2


200 gm boneless chicken breast meat, ground (minced) very coarsely
(The coarse part is important. I usually use two cleavers and break down a
chicken breast at home. You can try cutting the chicken breast very fine.
Freezing it for about 30 minutes before chopping makes it easier.)

90 ml (6 tablespoons) chicken stock

2 teaspoons peanut oil

2 teaspoons galangal (substitute young ginger if you can't find this) -
finely chopped

1 tablespoon lemon grass - use only the tender heart and not the fibrous
outer layer - finely chopped
(substitute 1 teaspoon lemon rind if you can't find this)

Fresh red chillies - from 1 teaspoon to 2 tablespoons depending on your
tolerance - very finely sliced
(don't forget to wash your hands with soap immediately after touching them)

Shallots - 4 - sliced
(substitute with quarter of a medium onion if you can't find this)

1/2 cup fresh mint leaves - chopped

1/2 cup fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves - chopped

Spring onions (scallions for the Americans) - 2 tablespoons - finely chopped

4 tablespoons RAW rice (we're gonna make toasted ground rice with this)

4 Lettuce leaves

Salad dressing ingredients

4 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon sugar


First, we're going to make our special ingredient - toasted ground rice.
This gives the salad a nutty flavour.
Heat a skillet over low heat and when it's hot enough, add the raw rice
grains. Keep the heat low and stir from time to time. Keep toasting till
the grains turn golden brown. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. When
it has cooled down, put it into a coffee grinder and grind till you have a
coarse powder. You should NOT grind it till it's fine. It should still have
some "bite".

Combine the salad dressing ingredients and set aside.

Heat a wok or large pan and when it's hot, add the peanut oil. Once the oil
is hot, add the ground chicken, lemon grass, shallots, and galangal. Turn
the heat down to medium and cook for 1 minute. Don't let the chicken brown.
Then add the chicken stock and cook for another 3-4 minutes (about 30-60
seconds past the time that the chicken turns white completely and is no
longer pink). There, the chicken is done. Turn off the heat. Add the salad
dressing, the chillies, the toasted rice, spring onions, the mint and
coriander leaves. Mix well.

Take a serving plate, arrange the lettuce leaves in the corners of the
plate, and empty the chicken and its dressing on to the plate in between
the leaves.

Ta da! Your salad is ready. Traditionally, it is served with plenty of
veggies and herbs on the side. You can have the salad as an accompaniment
to your main course, or wrap the chicken and some dressing in the lettuce
leaves and enjoy it as a hot n' sour package. Be adventurous and use more
chilli than you'd normally use. The flavour of the fresh herbs will prevent
any serious damage to your taste buds. :p

This salad can be served at room temperature, but I like to serve it warm.
Remember that if you allow it to cool, the chilli flavour recedes and the
salty flavour becomes more assertive. Try making the salad with beef too.

Let me know how it turns out.


PS: Chilli causes the release of endorphins in your body, which make you
happy, so it's just as effective a "love food" as chocolate. And the medley
of flavours in this salad gets people all excited too. (wink, wink)

<<<   *   >>>
Madhu Menon
Internet User Experience Consultant

Content * Interfaces * Usability * Net Strategy

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