Larb Gai – the traditional Thai meat salad with chicken

Larb Gai, often spelled Lab Gai or Laab Gai, is one of the most famous Thai dishes. If you go to a Thai restaurant or are on vacation in Thailand, you will definitely find this delicacy on the menu.

Why there are so many different spellings for this dish is easily explained. In Thailand they use their own Thai characters. The transcription of these characters is not really fixed. Therefore, translations from Thai always have several possible spellings. None of these are wrong though.

What is Larb Gai?

Larb Gai - the traditional Thai meat salad with chicken

Larb Gai is, by and large, a Thai salad made from chicken. However, this salad is not only prepared with chicken, but also with pork, beef, seafood or various fish, preferably tuna. But it can also be prepared vegan with tofu. Then, however, it is seasoned instead of fish sauce, with soy sauce seasoned in this Thai food dish

Originally the Larb Gai recipe comes from Laos. Laos borders Thailand to the north. In this Southeast Asian country, this meat salad is one of the most traditional national dishes. There, however, it is usually written Laap. And also in Thailand it has a great tradition.

This aromatic salad made its way to Thailand via Isaan. Isaan is the rural region of Thailand, often referred to as the poorhouse of the country, or the rice chamber of Thailand. Isaan borders directly with Laos, so it is not surprising that the specialties of both countries are also similar.

In addition, Lao migrant workers have been working in Thailand since time immemorial and the Hmong, an Asian hill tribe, are also settled in both Laos and Thailand. According to legend, the Larb Salad comes from the Hmong people.

What is special about the Larb Gai recipe??

Larb Gai - the traditional Thai meat salad with chicken

As with most Thai food, the Laab is a very simple dish. The preparation is relatively quick, not many ingredients are needed and yet the taste is breathtaking.

No matter what kind of meat, in the variant Gai – that is chicken, the chicken is cut very small. In Thailand, the meat is chopped with a large cleaver, but you can also use chopped chicken.

The meat is roasted in a wok and only seasoned with the typical spices (for example mint and coriander). Already the traditional, Asian meat salad is ready. In Thailand, Laab Gai is usually eaten with Khau Niau, the famous glutinous rice. This sticky rice is served hot in small bamboo baskets, or cold in squares.

In just a few minutes, you can create a delicious Thai dish that may become your favorite meal.

What is the Larb Gai salad seasoned with??

Larb Gai - the traditional Thai meat salad with chicken

The individual Thai spices make up the distinctive flavor of this Thai meat salad. Once you have tried this dish, you will never forget this aroma. If you order a Larb for the first time in Thailand, you might want to mention mai pet with it. This means: Not spicy. Because the Thais like to eat this salad really very spicy.

The chopped meat is seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce, sugar and, of course, chili. It is very important for the larb that it is mixed with mortared, i.e. small crushed, raw and roasted rice. This gives the specialty its very special texture and extra crunch.

Shortly before serving, chopped spring onion and shallots, plenty of coriander and mint are folded in. This is also already the big secret about this wonderfully aromatic salad. Serve this salad additionally with some green raw long beans, some leaves of white cabbage and two or three chili peppers.

Depending on your preference, the laab salad can be served with a little more or less marinade. In general, however, people in Thailand prefer the version with plenty of marinade, as this is often served with the glutinous rice. Classic rice is also a popular accompaniment to this dish.

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