Tastes of the Old Country Here

Larb Gai Smiley

Had a hankering for something spicy and crunchy and serendipitously came across a Larb Gai Lettuce Cups recipe via White on Rice Couple.  Larb Gai is one of my all time favorite Thai takeout options.  Drunken noodle is up there too. It’s that combo of chili peppers, the savory spices and the sweet vegetables makes it all so delicious.   While I was at the market, I found fresh Thai chilies.

Note: Even two hand-washes doesn’t mean you can take out your contacts. Gloves highly recommended for chopping chilies.

This dish would be great served with rice and fresh mango with mint.


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast or turkey breast or ground pork.
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • Minced fresh chiles, Jalapeño or Fresno (amount up 
to you)
  • 1 can water chestnuts, sliced
  • 2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1  lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce (low-sodium or the real stuff)
  • 1 head iceberg or Boston lettuce, leaves separated into “cups”
  • 1 handful of cilantro and/or mint, cut into chiffonade


  1. Because this recipe is quick, it is helpful to have all ingredients chopped from the start.
  2. Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. I made  the mistake of turning the stove up to “High” and having oil splatter everywhere.  Think the key is just to make sure it’s hot.
  3. When hot, swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the chicken or pork. Use your spatula to break up the meat and spread out over the surface of the pan. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
  4. Push the ground chicken to one side of the pan and swirl in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil. To the oil, add the shallots, red onion, garlic, and fresh chiles and sauté the aromatics until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add red bell pepper and water chestnuts.
  5. Add the fish sauce, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  6. Serve with lettuce cups and herbs.
While looking at recipes for Larb Gai, I also found a great resource for Thai recipes over at ThaiTable.com
Because there are so many overlapping flavors, mango salsa  is a great additional dish to make while preparing larb gai.  One less thing to do during the week!

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