You get a lot of ideas form Ladies Lunches. I had never tasted Larb until my Maryknoll group in Sydney had one of its Ladies Lunch. Aurora ‘Bubut’ Lapus Sagaz was in town to fetch her daughter Alex and joined us for our usual Ladies Lunch. We had chosen “Chat Thai”, one of my favorite Thai restaurants, to have our lunch.
Bubut chose Larb as one of our dishes and I found it very refreshing. It is a mixture of warm and cold which is paradoxical for a salad. The thing about Thai chilies is that the ‘hotness’ is only felt in the mouth and does not go down the throat and thereby does not need a liquid to cool your throat.
I have tweaked it a bit from the original recipe to include the greens that I like. I also served it in one of our Family Lunches and my sister Jane said, “Meg, you have created another signature dish!”
Thai Larb (Warm Chicken Salad)
Larb is a Thai salad of minced meat, chicken for this recipe, with fresh greens and a spicy, tangy, salty dressing.
- 200 grams boneless chicken thigh – ground or finely chop
- 50 grams snow peas – slice julienne or French beans cut into 2-inch pieces
- ¼ cup finely sliced Spanish onion
- pinch salt
- 2 tablespoons peanut or rice bran oil
- 3 – 4 Thai small red chilies
- 2 teaspoons sliced ginger or galangal or lemon grass
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons palm sugar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 cup coriander leaves
- 20 mint leaves - cut in half
- 1 cup spinach leaves
- 1 cup rocket/arugula
- 2 cups iceberg lettuce – torn into bite size pieces
- 1 small Japanese cucumber - slice into thin circles
- 1 horseradish - slice in half then into thin half moons
First do the sauce: using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, then add the chilies and continue pounding, then add the ginger and pound; add the palm sugar cube and pound; then add the lime juice and mix; then the fish sauce.
Let stand for 15 minutes and then using a small plastic strainer, strain the mixture into a cup; set aside till ready to use.
Prepare the vegetables: soak all the vegetable leaves in cool water for 15 minutes and then drain well; dry with a salad spinner to totally dry.
Arrange on a serving platter and refrigerate till ready to serve.
Prepare the chicken: Using a medium sized skillet over medium hot fire, put in the oil and sauté the onions for 1 minute. Then add the chicken; cook chicken till the chicken turns white. Then add the snow peas/French beans, and cook for 2 minutes. Set aside.
When you are ready to serve, reheat the chicken, pour in the sauce, mix well and then scatter the cooked chicken mixture on top of the salad and serve immediately.