Sunday, April 25, 2010

Larb Gai

There's a special place in my heart for Thai cuisine. As a child, my family and I visited Thailand every January. My grandpa started a tour company (long before I was born), and had fallen in love with Southeast Asia during his extensive travels. By the time I showed up, I got to tag along on their annual "Amazing Thailand" trips. Although I'm only 23 years old, I've been to Thailand somewhere between 10-15 times! I have to say, I really miss it!
It did take me a while to appreciate the food though. Truth be told, when I was a kid I was more likely to order chicken fingers and fries in the hotel lobby than anything authentic. I love it now more than ever, now that my frequent visits are behind me!
Anyway, this is something my dad enjoyed in the coffee shop of the Montien Pattaya years ago. A nice light, refreshing salad of ground chicken, lemongrass, lime, mint etc. The interesting ingredient it has is raw jasmine rice that has been toasted and pounded to an almost-powder. The rice adds little flecks of crunchiness that really add to the dish.

Larb Gai
575 g ground chicken meat
6 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
Cook these ingredients together in a fry pan over high heat, until the chicken is cooked, and the pan dries up (moisture evaporates). Remove from heat and add...
4 thinly sliced lemongrass stalks (white part only)
4-5 thinly sliced shallots
10 thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves
6-8 thinly sliced scallions
Thai bird's eye chilis (depending on your taste - I use 3-4)
2 tablespoons jasmine rice (toasted in a dry pan over med heat until golden, and then pounded in a mortar and pestle until it's almost a powder)
Mix everything together and serve over lettuce leaves. Garnish with mint.

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