Saturday, May 15, 2010

Laab Gai

This dish is, quite frankly, amazing if you are a Thai food fan. And, well, if you are a Thai food fan, you should already know how amazing it is! It is usually served as a side salad to the main meal. I love to spoon some into a butter lettuce leaf and eat it like a little spring roll (PF Chiang style). My husband loves it so much I often just double the portion and serve it as the main course with some sticky rice. You can make it as spicy or mild as you like. While I like to taste my food, my husband likes flames to shoot out of every opening in his head, so it's all up to you. Traditional recipes use fresh chili peppers chopped up, but I discovered that I really love how the flavor of chopped, pickle tabasco peppers taste in my Thai food. You can find jars of pickled tabasco in the hispanic section; I know that Goya bottles some that you really have to be careful with! If you already know what tabasco peppers taste like and don't like them, however, just use your favorite fresh spicy pepper. Buon appetito!


1 lb ground chicken (you can also use turkey)
2 tbs vegetable oil
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup fish sauce
about 10 chopped pickled tabasco peppers (or a couple fresh chilis depending on taste)
4 scallions, chopped
1 tbs red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 head butter lettuce
1 tbs toasted rice powder (this is optional, but I will tell you how to make this)

In a wok or a heavy skillet heat the vegetable oil and add the ground chicken. Break up the chicken so there are no large lumps (you want the chicken consistency to be fine, not lumpy). Stir fry the chicken until it has released all its water and the water has evaporated and the pan is pretty much dry around the chicken.

Meanwhile, get your lime juice, fish sauce, tabasco (chili) peppers and red pepper flakes mixed together in a bowl to marry the flavors. Once the chicken is prepared, add it to the lime juice mixture and coat it well. Add your rice powder and lastly add your cilantro and spring onion (you don't want to add them too soon because the cilantro will wilt and you want the onions to be crisp). Serve nestled in butter lettuce leaves or on a plate with leaves on the side.

To make toasted rice powder: Get a dry skillet good and hot and add a couple tablespoons of jasmine rice. Shake the pan every now and then; you will see the grains of rice start to get brown. Do not let them burn. Once they are toasted on all sides, pour them into a mortal and crush them into a fine powder. Voila! Rice powder. It adds a nutty flavor to many Thai salads.

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