Guys! I have been holding out on you. I have made this dish, a family favorite, a billion times–but it is so easy and so fast that is often gets made on nights when I don’t have the time or inclination to take pictures. I have always loved ordering larb gai (sometimes spelled lap kai, laab gai, etc), a sticky rice Northeastern Thai salad made with minced chicken, but I never felt like making it at home. It always required planning ahead between having ground chicken on hand and making the sticky rice.
Then one day I was reading She Simmers, where she discusses both the “anatomy” of the dish, as well as the anatomy of the transliteration of its name (larb/laab/lap/etc). She mentioned that in Thailand, people use all sorts of minced meats in the dish, and just like that a family favorite was born. Because thanks to both my own and my family’s propensity for buying entire cows or sections of a cow at once, I always have ground beef in my freezer. It had just never occurred to me to use it before. I also (with apologies to Leela and Thai purists) serve it with Jasmine rice, cooked up in 20 minutes.
I follow Leela’s recipe for the minced meat faithfully. The one time I tried subbing Thai basil for the mint in a moment of necessity, it definitely made a difference and not in a good way. So I am sending you over to Leela’s post for the recipe. You may notice, however, that our dishes look different. Hers is obviously the more authentically Thai preparation. Mine is what comes from a lifetime of eating Americanized taco salads. I like a crunchy romaine and crunchy shredded napa cabbage with my ground meat. I also like a ton of both. For anything S.E. Asian, I like to add cucumber and shredded carrots. Grape or cherry tomatoes would be nice too, although I did not have any this day. And I always serve the salad with extra fish sauce and lime wedges, as the preferred balance of salty and sour can be very individual.
I have to give another shout-out to Leela for giving me all of the translations for including different kinds of meat in your lap. I used a mix of ground beef and ground turkey in this particular instance, hence the nuea (beef) and kai nguang (turkey). Check the comments section of her post for more translations still!
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I love seeing the quick and easy meals that make up someone’s go-to repertoire. Larb gai is one of those things I wish I had tasted before becoming vegetarian, just for the flavor of it. Maybe I”ll try it with lentils in place of the beef because it sounds super tasty!
I love that you used both turkey and beef in this dish! I love exposing my family to different types of dishes. Can’t wait to try this one!
Laura, how easy is it to find galangel powder, or do you make your own? Looking forwarding to trying this one!
I get it at jungle Jim’s, but I would think most Southeast Asian grocers would carry it. You can also use grated fresh Galangal, it probably is even better frankly.
Laura you did a wonderful job on this recipe. Love the addition of the vegetables. Looks really delicious!
Wow does this look good. I am a huge fan of thai food but I don’t get it very often because I have a kid with a peanut allergy so we avoid thai restaurants. I need to start making it at home, thanks for sharing this!
I love Larb Gai, or really anything Thai. Will click over to get the recipe!
Barbara @ Spirited Cook says
This looks healthy and like something I would make! I like your additions and I have to crack up when you said you are influenced by taco salads! I know what you mean! I’ll pop over to her site for the recipe. Cheers!
I love Thai food – we love it so much we went back last December to Thailand to enjoy their amazing cuisine! And yes, anything with fish sauce qualifies as delicious!
Nibbles By Nic says
I’m so glad you decided to share the yumminess! Thai is a fave amongst my fan and I def plan on making this authentic dish very soon!
It’s about time! I got a mess of Thai spices after a friend’s husband gave me his loose recipe for Larb. I followed his instructions and ended up with something inedible. That soured me from trying to make Larb again, and I’ve been using my spices for other Thai-inspired dishes instead.
I think you’ve given me incentive to try it out–and I’ve got a thawed bag of ground beef waiting for something to do!
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
I LOVE larb gai! Cannot wait to try a true authentic version!!!
Lauren @ Wicked Spatula says
I first had Larb Gai at an amazing Thai restaurant on my honeymoon…In Mexico believe it or not! I’ve been a fan ever since! I might try my hand at making it myself soon!
Renée ♥ The Good Hearted Woman says
Like so many Thai dishes, this looks so light and refreshing! Thank you!