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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Monday, January 23, 2017

Larb! (Laotian Ground Chicken & Rice)

Larb doesn't sound like the most appetizing name for a dish, but this dish is truly fantastic. It's easy, cheap, filling, endlessly customizable and tastes delicious. 

Larb is a traditional dish of Laos, in Southeast Asia.  This version isn't traditional, but it has the qualities of Larb and is so simple. 

All you really need is ground chicken and rice, and any additional veggies you like. The simple sauce is sweet and tart, made with easy-to-find Asian ingredients.  It's awesome. 

Pickled onions add some crunchy tang to the ground meat and rice. 

You can serve the larb over rice or along with rice in boston lettuce leaves.

Either way this dish is a winner.  You can adjust the spice level with more or less chilis, add mushrooms and/or greens, or any other veggies you like.  My favourite addition is water chestnuts - I love the crunchy texture. 

Here's what you need...

1/2 a medium red onion
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 lb (around 500g) ground chicken (you can also use ground turkey, pork or beef)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small hot peppers, minced 
1 bunch green onions, sliced
4 tablespgroons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek (chili garlic sauce)
Butter or Boston lettuce leaves for serving
Cilantro for serving
Lime wedges for serving

Optional additions:
Finely chopped mushrooms (cooked with the ground chicken)
Chopped greens such as bok choy, kale, or spinach (added with the sauce and wilted)
Chopped water chestnuts 

First steam some rice and make quick pickled onions by thinly slicing half a red onion and soaking it in rice vinegar while everything cooks.

In a large skillet, heat the oil and add the ground chicken, breaking it up and cooking until no longer pink.  Add the garlic chili peppers and white parts of the green onions and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates and the chicken starts to brown. 

Add the soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and sambal oelek, stirring to combine.  Add the green parts of the green onions and any other additions (leafy greens, water chestnuts) and cook until liquid is mostly evaporated. 

Serve over rice, topped with pickled onions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.  Even better, serve it all wrapped in lettuce leaves. 


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