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Larb Gai: Thai Chicken Salad

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Larb Gai

Cool and light, this Thai chicken salad is perfect for this time of year.

It’s a weird time of year: post-spring break, but not quite full-bloom spring. I don’t know how to dress, and I don’t know what to eat. Warm and cozy? Or cool and light?

Today feels like it should be cool and light. And you cannot get much cooler or lighter than Larb Gai. Often served in lettuce cups or wraps, Larb Gai is a chicken salad made with ground chicken, Thai seasonings, and lots of fresh herbs. This version is served in salad form, with everything – lettuce, herbs, chicken, and dressing – tossed together. We have added veggies in the form of red bell pepper and cucumber, and while I am not an expert in Thai cooking, I think they work. A sprinkle of toasted peanuts adds nutty crunch.

Before you turn away because of the fish sauce in the dressing: I promise it does not taste like fish in the salad. It just makes the whole thing taste, well, Thai(ish). It’s that little distinctive something you can’t put your finger on.

Spring, we’re coming. For now, we can serve you in a salad bowl.

Larb Gai: Thai Chicken Salad
1 pound ground chicken
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 3 limes
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon crushed chile flakes
1 heart of romaine lettuce, chopped
½ cucumber, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ cup torn fresh mint leaves
½ cup torn fresh basil leaves
½ cup torn cilantro leaves
2 scallions, thinly sliced
¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
¼ cup toasted, crushed peanuts

Cook the chicken in a skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with salt and pepper, until it is cooked through and begins to brown. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chile flakes. Pour the dressing over the warm chicken in the skillet. Toss to coat, and set aside so that the chicken absorbs the dressing while you make the salad.

Toss the lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, mint, basil, cilantro, and scallions in a large bowl. Top with the chicken and toss again. Sprinkle the peanuts over the top.

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