Recipes/ Salad/ Side Dish

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai)

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) is a satisfyingly spicy dish for lunch, dinner, or even as a side dish. With its fragrant blend of herbs and spices, Larb has the perfect balance of salty and sweet. Not to mention it’s a light and healthy way cool off on a hot summer’s day.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - A fresh, zesty salad filled with all that good South East Asian flavour! A simple recipe you can whip up in minutes.| wandercooks.com

Despite its not-so-attractive-sounding name, Larb would have to be our most favourite salad from Southeast Asia. We had our first taste in Chiang Mai (Thailand) then later on a very similar version in the remote countryside of Laos.

In fact, it was in Laos’ sleepy northern village of Nong Khiaw, on the Nam Ou River, that we came across our favourite edition of this dish.

What I remember most about this little town is its massive bridge linking the village on both sides of the river…

… and the specific and oh-so-slightly embarrassing reason why we were 1000% grateful to be eating a salad full of bright, fresh, and HAPPY flavours that quiet, foggy day. 

Oh yeah. It had been quite a morning.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

Standing on the massive concrete bridge that morning, surrounded by immense mountains so close it felt like we could reach out and grab hold, Sarah suddenly had a bright idea.

You see, she was super keen to try her hand at some river fishing, but instead of opting for the overpriced tour company we decided to try negotiating with a local fisherman to take us out on his boat instead.

What we ended up boarding was a really low, reeeeeally long canoe basically, or at least that’s what it felt like.

Operated with two wooden paddles, it was completely devoid of the long, quirky and bizarrely designed engine that we’d both seen buzzing along the river previously.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

And when our fisherman/guide handed me that second paddle instead of Sarah, well, I’m pretty sure the look on my face said it all. 😛

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

When it was Sarah’s turn to take over, I was much happier swapping paddle for camera and fishing rod. Turns out she was equally as happy with the switch.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

But as we pushed off from the creaky wooden dock and started clawing our way against the river’s relentless flow, any irritation I felt drained away instantly.

It was just SO QUIET. The silence of the river and the mountains it caressed was so intense. 

As our canoe wriggled its way upstream through the mist and fog, the peaceful silence was broken only by the soft swishing of the two wooden oars.

We were in awe. 

And I didn’t even have to paddle anymore. 😀

A fresh, zesty salad full of South East Asian flavour! A simple recipe you can whip up in minutes.Click To Tweet

 

Our first goal was to set up some traps along the river’s edge. Nosing the boat under the branches of the overhanging trees, it was all I could do to stop myself leaping out of the boat to GET THE HECK AWAY from a massive, spindly, shiver-inducing forest spider.

Urrrrghh cannottype the horrorrrr. 

Justlookatthisthingohmygodgetaway!

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

And just as we placed this image, we noticed there were actually two spiders. TWO! *Shudders*

I can see you scrolling back up already. 😛

Extracting ourselves from the reeds, we continued paddling up the river, this time pulling out the more conventional fishing rods and baiting them with poor little wriggly bamboo worms for the fishies.

Casting the poor things out into the middle of the river, we sat in the silence for a while, bathed in wisps of fog, waiting, waiting. Suddenly we both felt a bite, and right at the same time too – oh how exciting!

Reeling and reeling, both lines came to a snapping stop, and realisation dawned.

Snagged! Eeeeeeeeeep.

And when our fisherman-turned-guide dropped first one, THEN THE OTHER fishing rod overboard well, our merry fish chase had most definitely come to an end.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nhon khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

Funny how it was an even quieter trip home, collecting our very, very empty nets along the way, while our spider nemesis looked on and laughed, an evil glint in his eye.

Needless to say, with the morning barely stretching past 9 am and already a spectacular failure, a big bowl of Larb Gai aka Laotian Chicken Salad helped us forget our non-fishy woes and feel a lot better.

Larb is Laos’ National Dish and not far behind when it comes to Thai esteem too.

What sets it apart from a lot of other salads is that it’s made mostly with meat, in this case chicken. In that way it’s similar to this Strawberry Salami Salad that we posted recently.

It’s full of HEAPS of fresh flavour, mostly due to the bitey blend of mint and coriander.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - Travelling through Nong khiaw in Laos, on a rented fishing boat early in the morning.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai)

First up, can we just say, this is a recipe where you definitely want to splurge on fresh herbs. They literally MAKE this salad and are essential its amazingly fresh flavour.

There’s also a new ingredient here which might be unfamiliar to you, which is Toasted Sticky Rice Powder. The good news is you should be able to pick it up (toasted and ground and ready to rumble) from your nearest Asian grocery. We found ours next to the spices section, so try there first.

Or if you’re feeling adventurous you can always make some yourself.

If you’ve got chicken breast or thighs already in your fridge or freezer, don’t feel like you need to rush out specially to buy chicken mince. You can make your own at home by slicing the chicken as thinly as you can then chopping it up into small pieces, just like we did. It’ll be just as good.

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - A fresh, zesty salad filled with all that good South East Asian flavour! A simple recipe you can whip up in minutes.| wandercooks.com

Love salads? Can’t get enough? We hear you. Why not try one (or all!) of these awesomely delicious additions to your salad repertoire:

Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai) - A fresh, zesty salad filled with all that good South East Asian flavour! A simple recipe you can whip up in minutes.| wandercooks.com

5.0 from 7 reviews
Laotian Chicken Salad (Lao Larb Gai)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
A fresh, zesty salad full of South East Asian flavour! A simple recipe you can whip up in minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Laotian
Ingredients
  • 600 g minced chicken
  • 1 + 1 handful mint leaf, chopped
  • 1 handful coriander, chopped
  • 1-2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion, finely sliced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp ground toasted sticky rice powder
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Place minced chicken in a bowl. Add lime juice and mix to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or work. Add the chicken and cook quickly, stirring continuously. Once cooked through, transfer to a mixing bowl.
  3. In a small bowl mix the fish sauce, lime juice, sticky rice powder, chilli powder and sugar. Pour over the cooked chicken and mix well to spread evenly.
  4. Add the shallot, coriander, spring onion and 1 handful of mint, toss to combine then transfer to serving plates. Garnish with extra mint.
  5. Can be served hot or cold.

 

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  • Vicky @ Avocado Pesto
    10/04/2016 at 10:42 pm

    Loved Nong Khiaw, when I was there in 2013! Haha too bad you didn’t have any luck with the fishing, and those spiders are TERRIFYING! I looooved Larb Gai while in Laos – so good!

    • Wandercooks
      11/04/2016 at 8:19 am

      Nong Khiaw is such a gorgeous place isn’t it? We couldn’t get enough of the views from that bridge, and the funny little chickens running around everywhere haha. And the lovely people too of course! Yep, a pity about the fishing, but a very very very good thing we didn’t have to get ANY closer to that spider. Uuugh!

  • Brian Jones
    08/04/2016 at 5:03 pm

    This sounds wonderful and definitely want to give this a try, I immediately thought about subbing out the lime juice for some tamarind water to add the same citrus effect but with some earthiness.

    • Wandercooks
      08/04/2016 at 5:31 pm

      Oh great idea, it’s amazing the subtle differences you can achieve with trying different ingredients. Enjoy Brian, and let us know how you go!

  • Elizabeth
    08/04/2016 at 4:43 pm

    What an amazing experience! I want to be there with you so bad! Gorgeous recipe too. You guys are so lucky 🙂

    • Wandercooks
      08/04/2016 at 5:30 pm

      Laos is such an incredible country. Looking back, we wish we could have spent more time there, but at least we have some tasty recipes to remember it by!

  • Brianne | Natural Girl Modern World
    08/04/2016 at 4:14 pm

    Love this post! I absolutely loved visiting Thailand (especially Chiang Mai for the food) and Laos. Your photos take me back to those days 😀 Sticky rice powder is definitely a new one for me!

    • Wandercooks
      11/04/2016 at 8:22 am

      Thanks Brianne! It’s what we love most about sharing food and recipes, how the flavours and memories can bring you back to places you’ve been or whisk you away to somewhere new! 🙂 Sticky rice powder is an interesting ingredient too. It’s hard to describe what it brings to do the dish, and yet it just wouldn’t be the same without it!

  • Mica @ Let's Taco Bout It Blog
    08/04/2016 at 2:49 pm

    I’m in love with all of your photos! So much beauty! Love it! Recipe sounds great. This will be my second recipe with fish sauce. Still haven’t tried it… yet!

    • Wandercooks
      08/04/2016 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks Mica! Oh you really have to try fish sauce, it’s such an amazing ingredient. Just try to resist smelling the bottle haha, it’s guaranteed to smell horrid every time!. 😛

      P.S. We love your blog too, the colours and flavours in all your recipes are gorgeous! 🙂

  • Valentina
    08/04/2016 at 2:02 pm

    I want to make a lettuce wrap with this deliciousness!

    • Wandercooks
      08/04/2016 at 4:08 pm

      That is a BRILLIANT idea! We might just do that too next time!

  • Sam | Ahead of Thyme
    07/04/2016 at 11:48 am

    Ummm, this salad is making me hungry even though I just ate dinner!!! Thanks for the recipe

    • Wandercooks
      07/04/2016 at 11:48 am

      FOR dinner, AFTER dinner, however you want to eat it we will NEVER judge! 😀

  • Sherri @ Watch Learn Eat
    07/04/2016 at 11:26 am

    It looks like you had a lot of fun on the river! That spider is seriously CREEPY! I have been afraid to set foot in a river since I was 15 because I spider fell from a tree down my shirt! Not fun! But in any event, the chicken salad looks and sounds amazing. Awesome flavors going on here! Love your story too! 🙂

    • Wandercooks
      07/04/2016 at 11:48 am

      Haha thanks Sherri, it really was heaps fun, but we felt sooo bad when those rods went overboard. Oh oh, a spider down the shirt does NOT sound like fun! I think I would have fainted if a spider like THAT landed on me!

  • Heather
    07/04/2016 at 11:26 am

    I love that you have both mint and lime in this recipe … great contrast in flavors! Beautiful pics too!!

    • Wandercooks
      07/04/2016 at 11:46 am

      The combo is totally delicious. So popular in Southeast Asian cuisine too. I think that’s why so many Asian dishes are so refreshing!

  • Mahy
    07/04/2016 at 11:24 am

    Such a refreshing post! Loved reading it and oh the chicken salad–I am craving it! Thanks for sharing!

    • Wandercooks
      07/04/2016 at 11:45 am

      Haha thanks Mahy, glad you enjoyed. 🙂

  • Sara
    07/04/2016 at 10:57 am

    This looks really delicious!! I have to try this sometime!

    • Wandercooks
      07/04/2016 at 11:43 am

      Thanks Sara, enjoy!

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