Larb Gai: Thai Chicken Salad

Larb Gai

The Spruce

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 18 mins
Total: 28 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1048 Calories
53g Fat
66g Carbs
79g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 2
Amount per serving
Calories 1048
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 53g 68%
Saturated Fat 13g 65%
Cholesterol 197mg 66%
Sodium 6366mg 277%
Total Carbohydrate 66g 24%
Dietary Fiber 7g 24%
Total Sugars 26g
Protein 79g
Vitamin C 134mg 672%
Calcium 366mg 28%
Iron 14mg 80%
Potassium 1977mg 42%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Larb gai is Thailand's version of a Western-style grilled chicken salad, except the chicken is not grilled--it's stir-fried. This dish is classic, traditional Thai. While this recipe is made with chicken, in Thailand, pork and even beef are also used.

Larb gai is best served while the chicken is still hot from the pan and the greens are cold, though you can also serve it with rice. A key ingredient is fresh mint, which marries beautifully with the chicken. This dish so good, it's a little addictive!

Ingredients

For the Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

  • 1/4 cup fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 to 1 fresh red chile, minced, or dried crushed chile, to taste

For the Salad

  • 4 to 5 loosely packed cups arugula, or other garden greens of choice

  • 10 to 15 medium fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

  • 3 medium green onions, thinly sliced

  • 1 ounce fresh basil leaves

  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced

  • 1/2 medium cucumber, sliced or diced

  • 4 tablespoons raw sticky rice, or 3 to 4 tablespoons chopped peanuts or cashews

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons canola, or vegetable oil

  • 1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 pound chicken breast, finely chopped, or ground chicken, pork, or turkey

  • 4 makrut lime leaves, very thinly sliced, optional

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • Water, as needed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for larb gai thai salad
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  2. Combine all salad dressing ingredients together in a cup or bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

    Combine salad dressing ingredients
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  3. Combine all the cold salad ingredients in a large salad bowl (arugula/salad greens, mint, green onions, basil, red pepper, and cucumber).

    Combine salad
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  4. If using rice, see instructions below. Set aside.

    Rice
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  5. Place 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, chicken, and lime leaf (if using).

    Place oil in wok
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  6. As you stir-fry, add the fish sauce. Also, add a little water if the pan becomes dry. Stir-fry until chicken is cooked - about 8 to 10 minutes.

    Add fish sauce
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  7. Transfer the hot chicken to the salad bowl with prepared salad ingredients. Pour over the dressing and toss well.

    Transfer chicken to bowl
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska 
  8. Finally, add the chopped nuts or ground toasted rice.

    Add chopped nuts
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  9. Taste test the salad, adding more fish sauce if you prefer it saltier or more flavorful. Add more dried crushed chili if you prefer it spicier. If too bitter, add a little more sugar.

    Add dressing
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  10. Garnish with more mint or basil leaves or with some edible flowers.

    Garnish
    ​The Spruce Eats / Ulyana Verbytska
  11. Serve immediately while the chicken is still warm. 

To Make the Rice:

Ground toasted rice is traditionally added to this salad. This dish is also delicious without it or with ground or chopped nuts added instead. However, if you'd like to make this salad the authentic way, here's how:

  1. Place uncooked rice in a dry wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. As rice heats up, shake the pan back and forth or stir with a spoon. After 6 to 8 minutes, the rice will turn a light golden brown and begin to pop (like popcorn).

  2. When it begins to pop, transfer to a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar. Grind down to a coarse powder. (A coffee grinder works well for this. Simply wipe out with a clean, dry cloth, then pour in your rice and grind. For pestle and mortar, use a firm, circular grinding motion.)

  3. Use in your recipe and enjoy!