Chicken laab (also known as larb or laap) is one of my favorite Southeast Asian dishes. In the Hmong culture, you will often see different variations of laab eaten at family gatherings, like weddings and funerals. It is quick and easy to make and a little goes a long way. Plus, the leftovers taste better the second day since the meat soaks in all of the juices overnight. The great thing about laab is that you can also add, omit, or adjust ingredients as desired. It is also a good dish to eat if you are dieting since you could adjust the amount of sodium accordingly.
Growing up, my mom hardly ever made laab because she did not like the smell of fish sauce. The only times we got to eat it was during weddings, funerals, or family gatherings. A few years ago when I was living on my own, I craved laab and looked online for easy recipes. The recipe I am going to share is a combination of several recipes that I have used over the years to make chicken laab.
You will need:
- 2 large boiled chicken breasts (for 2 people), finely chopped (Boil for about 15 to 20 minutes or until cooked through prior to chopping.)
- 1 tbsp of laab-namtok seasoning mix *Lee Brand recommended (Purchase online or find at a local Asian grocery store.)
- 3 stalks of green onions (including the white part), finely chopped
- A handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 sprigs of mint leaves, finely chopped (Detach leaves from the stem and then chop the leaves only.)
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped or thinly sliced
- 2 Thai chilies, finely chopped
- 1 small lime or ½ of 1 large lime, squeezed
- 1 ½ tbsp of fish sauce *Three Crab Brand recommended (Purchase online or find at a local Asian grocery store.)
Mix everything in a bowl and adjust to taste. You can add in other herbs, like culantro. If you do not like fish sauce, you can also use salt. (Note: This may alter the taste a little as the fish sauce gives the laab more depth.)
I omitted the lemon grass because we didn’t have any on hand, but if you have lemon grass then add in a stalk of lemon grass (just the white part, finely sliced).
Also, please note that the laab-namtok seasoning mix has a lot of salt, so use the fish sauce sparingly. I would do about ½ a tbsp at a time after you put in the laab-namtok seasoning mix. Since the laab-namtok seasoning mix is also spicy, I did not add in many Thai chilies.
If you do not have laab-namtok seasoning mix or do not have access to it, you can also toast some raw sweet rice (glutinous or sticky rice) or short-grain rice in a skillet until the grains turn a golden brown. Once browned to the correct consistency, use a mortar and pestle to grind the rice until it becomes a powder. Here is a video tutorial by FastandEasyThaiMeals. If you go this route, make sure to add in more fish sauce (about ½ tbsp) for saltiness and another Thai chili or chili flakes for spice.
Chicken laab or laab in general is one of the easiest Southeast Asian dishes to make and you can adjust it to your taste. You can serve it on a bed of lettuce, but we ate it straight out of the bowl. We also like to eat it with sticky rice, but jasmine rice is great as well.