Larb, larp, laap whatever you call it, this Lao mince salad has started regularly presenting its zingy little face at our dinner table. Hot, caramelised meat plus frying pan juices poured over crunchy herbal salad, sharply dressed, sprinkled with toasted rice and skinned up with a crisp iceberg leaf. Mmmm.

The “khao khua” or roasted rice powder is a must and as easy as toasting some Thai sticky (or in my case pudding) rice in a dry frying pan and then pounding to grit (or you could just buy a pack from an Oriental supermarket). I marinated chicken thighs overnight before chopping into teeny tiny pieces, pre-minced meat would of course be the more convenient, if  less texturally fine option.

There are no claims to authenticity here; I prefer to see larb as a truly magical way  of saving salad drawer remnants from the bin. After six months of Winter comfort food the freshness factor has been a welcome relief.


4 boneless and skinless chicken thighs

2 tbsp. oyster sauce

The juice of one lime

1 shallot or small onion, finely sliced

A little neutral oil (groundnut’s good)

For the salad

3 fat spring onions, finely sliced

½ a yellow, red and green pepper, thinly sliced

A few big handfuls of beansprouts

2 handfuls of coriander, finely chopped

1 handful of mint, finely shredded

1 -2 fresh red Thai chillies, finely chopped

For the dressing

4 tbsp. fish sauce

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. Thai chilli jam/sauce

Pinch of palm/brown sugar

The juice of a lime

3-4 tbsp.  uncooked sticky rice or khao khua powder

1 iceberg lettuce


  • Mix the chicken thighs with the oyster sauce and the juice of one of the limes. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours, or even overnight if you can.

  • If toasting your own rice, heat a dry frying pan and tip in the rice. Once it turns golden and smells popcorn-like, remove from the heat and grind to a coarse powder. Keep in an airtight jar, ready for your next fix.

  • Mix the salad ingredients. Separate the iceberg leaves out. Combine the dressing ingredients and adjust until you’re happy with the sour, salty, hot balance.

  • Finely chop the chicken and mix well with the marinade.

  • Heat a frying pan and add just a little slick of oil. When it’s hot, add the shallot and fry until almost crisp. Tip in the chicken and cook until it starts to caramelise in places.

  • Pour the hot chicken into the cold salad and mix well. Dress, sprinkle with the toasted rice, wrap in leaves of iceberg and eat immediately.


  1. Absolutely wonderful – have made a fair few of those tasty lettuce parcels before but these are THE BEST! The lime-oyster sauce marinade is SO great… I used (julienned) carrots instead of bean sprouts and sesame seeds instead of the rice (only had basmati – but next time I’ll definitely go all the way)!

    • gastrogeek

      thanks- the marinade makes all the difference and your carrots and sesame seeds sound like fantastic additions. BTW am so planning to make your chicken leek and tarragon pies, they look proper tasty!

  2. to eat and to woo

    The first dish I ate in Laos was Larb, I asked them to recommend me something and I was instantly addicted. Such amazing fresh flavours. Only place I’ve found it in the UK was Brixton Market and that was pretty special too. Keep meaning to make it, after seeing this I must!

    • gastrogeek

      seriously, it’s all I want to eat now the sun’s finally out again. Thanks for the tip off, I’ll have to check out the stuff in Brixton Market!

  3. Thanks for this, I used to enjoy some fantastic larb when I was in London, but now out here in the country I have to make it myself, will have a go this weekend.

    • gastrogeek

      Thanks! Where did you have larb in London? Was it in Brixton Market by any chance?! Would love to hear how you get on

  4. Shauneen

    Made this yesterday using sliced duck, instead of chicken. What a hit. I am now working my way through all your recipes. Your balance of flavours is incredible. Thank you. If I could post a photo, I would.

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