This recipe is a twist on a South East Asian dish. In my late twenties I bought a one way ticket to Bangkok. For almost six months I traveled through Thailand, Malaysia and Laos. This dish was my absolute favorite, and I asked for it everywhere I went — to the dismay of some purveyors. Larb is a “peasant dish” served from basic ingredients and can be cooked street-side. I prefer Larb with chicken, Larb Gai. When it is cooked in Asia, it is cooked with boiling water. The cook will pour boiling water over the ground chicken until it is cooked through. This recipe is a shortcut where I cook the chicken in a cast iron skillet with coconut oil.
1lb ground chicken
Fresh mint (30 leaves, size of silver dollar)
Red onion med-large
Saute ground chicken (or ground pork, beef), add 1/2 red onion, finely chopped, when chicken is nearly done, add lemongrass to taste. I use a tube of lemongrass that is already prepped and squeeze out about a generous tablespoon. Add chilies of your choice, fresh or dried. Dried will be more potent. I would use one fresh thai or fresno chile about the size of a small elephant’s toe nail. Add fish sauce, (be careful!) I add about 1/2 teaspoon- 1 teaspoon at this stage. I can always add more later, but too much fish sauce will ruin any dish. Get to know this ingredient. Add about 15 mint leaves, each about the size of a silver dollar. When the chicken is fully cooked, add cilantro and basil, your choice as to how much to use. I use more basil than cilantro and try to use Thai basil, but sweet italian basil will work too. Add rice powder. Rice powder can be made by pulverizing rice in a coffee grinder or food processor. I use long grain brown rice. Make sure the rice is really pulverized. Feel it with your hands. It should feel like fine sand. The rice powder soaks up the flavors of this dish and really gives it a great consistency and texture. Use about 2 tablespoons of rice powder per pound of ground meat. Once your ingredients are all sautéed together, let the dish “rest” on the stove for about five minutes. Before serving, add another 15 fresh mint leaves, the other 1/2 of the red onion finely chopped, and some more basil and cilantro to taste. Taste to see if you want more fish sauce. Recently I added some peanuts. Experiment, Explore, Enjoy! Serve with thai sticky rice, (not sushi rice), or black thai rice, or without carb. I like to put the meat into red or green cabbage leaves and eat like a taco or roll. Enjoy!