Chicken laab

Chicken laab

Leanne Kitchen

It you asked lovers of Thai food to name their favourite salads, one would probably be green papaya salad, and another would be laab, also spelled larb or laap (meaning to mince/grind meat). This is a dish from the Isaan region of Thailand in the northeast of the country and bordered by Laos and Cambodia. It has many variations, from pork to duck, but we’ve opted for chicken. The most common complement to laab is Sticky rice. To serve, roll the rice in your hand into a ball and dip it into the laab to use as a scoop.


Quantity Ingredient
2 1/2 tablespoons sticky (glutinous) rice
600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and roughly chopped
6 red asian shallots, very thinly sliced
1 cm piece fresh galangal, finely chopped
2 teaspoons caster sugar
80ml fish sauce
80ml lime juice
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
1 lemongrass stem, very thinly sliced, white part only
5 kaffir lime leaves, central vein removed, very thinly sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
small handful mint leaves, coarsely chopped, plus extra whole leaves to garnish
small handful coriander leaves
fresh pineapple, sliced
1 tomato, quartered
green chillies, sliced, (optional)
Sticky rice


  1. Heat a small heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the rice and toast, shaking the pan often, for 6–8 minutes or until golden. Cool, then transfer to an electric spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle. Set aside.
  2. Using a large, sharp knife, chop the chicken until it is coarsely minced. Alternatively, cut the chicken into small pieces then process it in a food processor using the pulse button, taking care not to over-process – the chicken mince should still have some texture.
  3. Put the chicken in a bowl with the shallots, galangal, sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, chilli flakes and lemongrass and toss to coat well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and stand for 30 minutes.
  4. Heat a wok over medium heat, add the chicken mixture and cook, stirring constantly to break up the meat, for about 8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through but not coloured. Transfer, with any juices, to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, including the rice powder, and toss to combine well. Cool slightly. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter over the mint and coriander leaves and serve warm or at room temperature with the pineapple slices, tomato and green chillies, if using.
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