Laab Gai – Spicy Chicken Salad – ลาบไก่
Laab or Larb, Lapb, Lahb, Laap, Lap depending on who you speak to is a salad made of minced meat (in this case chicken but commonly made with pork, beef or duck), lots of mint and other fresh herbs, shallots, toasted rice powder, dried chilli, lime juice and fish sauce.
There are plenty of arguments as to where Laab originates from as it’s the national dish of Laos but also claimed by the residents of Thailand’s Isan region in the Northeast. Regardless of where it started out, Laab is eaten absolutely everywhere throughout Thailand and is one of my all time favourites .
It’s my go to dish when I feel like I’ve overindulged. As it’s steamed in its own juices and has no oil added, as long as you’re using lean meat it’s super healthy. Full of protein and packed with nutrients and vitamins from the fresh herbs and lime. You’ve got yourself a fresh, tasty salad that’s perfect for anyone wanting to enjoy Thai food without worrying about their waistline!
I have used skinless, boneless chicken thighs as I think they’re much more flavourful than breast and a lot less likely to dry out while cooking but feel free to use whatever you want. You can substitute the chicken for any meat you want. Pork is very common as is beef or duck as I said at the top of the post. I have even made Laab with lamb which was incredible, albeit not very traditionally Thai!
I have minced my own meat with a clever but you can also just pulse it (and I mean pulse, not blend to a paste!) in a food processor. I prefer to mince my own meat as I can tell what goes into it but you can use packet mince if you like.
Laab goes hand in hand with Som Tam Salad and sticky rice.