This chicken larb is packed with bright, delicious flavors and contrasting textures, and it takes just 30 minutes or less to make! Serve them in lettuce cups for a low carb option or with sticky rice.
What Is Larb?
Larb is a meat salad consisting of ground meat, herbs, chilies, fish sauce, lime juice, and toasted ground rice. Larb originated in Laos, and is also eaten in areas of Thailand (usually those populated by Lao people, who brought the dish to Thailand).
It is, in a word, delicious.
Little bits of crispy ground meat (in this case chicken, though ground pork, beef, duck, or even mushrooms can be used) are flavored with umami-laden fish sauce, bright lime juice, and lots of herbs.
The addition of the toasted ground rice gives the salad a delightful crunch, along with a buttery nuttiness that contrasts with the zip of the lime. The chilies give the larb heat, and the addition of fried shallots adds another delightful flavor dimension.
How Do You Eat Larb?
Larb can be served with sticky rice (see our post on foolproof sticky rice) or with raw vegetables like lettuce. It’s also delicious with fragrant coconut rice.
As my family will tell you, I am a major rice eater (I’m a two-bowl gal), but I must say that this chicken larb, when served in lettuce cups, is a delightful change of pace.
The crunchy lettuce goes perfectly with the fragrant larb, and for anyone trying to avoid carbs, a chicken larb lettuce cup offers a guilt-free option that doesn’t compromise on taste.
(Feel free to leave out the toasted rice if you’re being really strict with the carbs, but take it from me…that toasty rice is delicious. You could also reduce the amount of rice to 2 tablespoons.)
A Note On Grinding Meat for this Chicken Larb
Rather than buying ground chicken to make this chicken larb, I like to buy boneless skinless chicken thighs and hand-chop it myself using my mom’s trusty method for grinding meat without a grinder.
I do this for several reasons:
- Hand-chopped meat is a bit coarser and less like a paste, giving the finished chicken larb a better overall texture.
- Ground chicken sold in supermarkets is often made with breast meat, which is less flavorful than dark meat chicken.
- I like to buy organic chicken, and organic ground chicken is difficult to find in my supermarket.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs are often cheaper than pre-ground chicken breast.
- Hand chopping meat this way is actually very easy, and you can be sure of what went into it! Some ground meats can include fillers.
If using pork, you can also grind your own meat using pork shoulder! You can do the same with lamb shoulder, turkey thighs, etc.
Chicken Larb Recipe Instructions
In a dry wok or pan over low heat, toast the rice grains.
Stir continuously until they turn golden and fragrant––about 10 minutes.
Grind to a coarse powder in a mortar & pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
Heat your wok over high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry half the shallots in the oil until crispy. Remove the shallots from the wok, leaving behind any oil.
Place your wok back over high heat until smoking. Add the ground chicken. Stir-fry until the chicken is browned and crispy, and add in the sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice.
Stir-fry for another minute, and add the toasted rice powder, chilies, the rest of the raw shallots, scallions, cilantro, and mint.
Stir-fry for one more minute, and then taste for seasoning, adding salt or more chili, sugar, fish sauce, and/or lime juice to your taste if needed.
Serve in lettuce cups topped with the reserved crispy shallots.
Feel free to substitute any ground meat in this dish. It works great with ground turkey, ground beef, ground pork, or even ground lamb. Also check out our Pork Larb recipe, if you’d like a dedicated pork version! Pork larb lettuce wraps are delicious too!