Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Larb Gai, Thai Turkey Salad

My all-time favorite Thai dish is Larb Gai, so tangy, fresh, spicy and healthy.  It’s the only dish that I insist on ordering when we go out, let the others haggle over their favorite curries and pad Thai noodles… nothing matters when I have my Larb Gai.  Well, maybe I do need to admit, I also need my Tom Yum soup, but that’s another blog and will need to wait!!!

I researched a bunch of recipe sites for recipes for Larb Gai, and I need to admit right away, that this one is NOT authentic.  No kidding, and I am not of Thai descent either!
I thought I’d better get that disclaimer out of the way before the comments started to come in.  I am sure that my Thai friends have a very particular way of doing this, and this recipe of mine may be too simple for them. 

I buy the four pack of ground turkey at Costco regularly because it seems to be cheaper than the grocery store, and more convenient.  Lots of people do it, but I use ground turkey for many recipes instead of ground beef.  I put one in the fridge to use right away, and freeze the other three packs.  The packs take a couple of days to thaw in the fridge, so it might be a good idea to take out a couple of different frozen meats on Sunday night, then you are ready for whatever the week throws at you.

Many of the recipes lor Larb Gai called for “roasted rice powder”… hmmm, pretty sure I don’t have any of that hanging around!  Even though I read up on how to do it myself, which isn’t too hard, it was just a bit fussy for a Tuesday night.  I made the decision to hit the ‘easy’ button on this one and skip it entirely!  I might try toasting my own rice and then grinding it up someday, but right now, I have too much to do!

This whole dinner came together in way under 30 minutes, and with a fellow chopper and dicer in the kitchen, you could be eating this in under 15 minutes!

½ of a green cabbage, cut into wedges
1 ½ lbs of ground turkey
½ of a medium red onion, diced
3Tbsp. chopped fresh mint
2-3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cup of chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp. Fish Sauce, Asian section in most grocery stores
3-5 Tbsp lime juice, depending on your taste.
1- 2 Tbsp chili garlic paste
Salt and Pepper

Slice the green onions and chop the onion, cilantro and mint. Set aside to add to the cooked turkey. 

I’ve shown a picture below of how I chop green onions because when I see people do it the “long” way, it makes me crazy! Here's a fast way to get your slicing done quickly; first, make one chop in the middle, then put both ends side by side and slice the whole group all at once.  I usually slice up the whole bunch and put any extra’s in a small bowl in the fridge.  This little trick will make you very happy when scrambling eggs on Sunday, tossing a mixed green salad or wanting to give a dull dish a little green and crunchy accent. It's all about the garnish, baby!

Brown the ground turkey over medium high heat.  I use my potato masher to make sure that the meat is broken up evenly, but I know that a whisk works pretty well too.  Thoroughly cook the meat and turn off the heat.  Some recipes called for draining the meat, but there wasn’t much in there, so I left it! Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix.  After tasting this, my husband and I decided we liked more lime juice, salt, pepper and some extra red pepper flakes!  You decide!

Pictured above is the serving platter of the Larb Gai, and below is a photo of an individual serving of the appetizer assembled and ready to eat.  It kind of looks like a little taco, or lettuce cup from PF Changs.  This is how my local Thai place serves it, but it’s up to you.  Below you’ll find some other ideas of serving it.

Main Dish and Side Dish Inspirations
This salad could be an appetizer, a salad or main course depending on how, and when, you serve it:
  • Serve it with cabbage “cups” and fill each with the turkey mixture, a great, but slightly messy appetizer.
  • Finely shred the cabbage, place a bed of cabbage on a plate and top with the Larb Gai.  Nice main course salad.
  • Serve over white rice, with, or without, the cabbage.

Round Two cooking… make more and use it for:

  • You could throw the leftovers into some sort of noodle soup too.
  • Make extra and pack for your lunches. Here's a photo of two lunches ready to go, that is, unless some teenage boy devours them for a midnight snack.

What else would this technique work on???
You could easily use this technique on:
  • Ground chicken
  • Ground Pork.
  • Tofu... I don't know, might be great!


  1. This looks yummy...I will pick up some ground Turkey at Costco this week and give it a try. :-) Especially like that this is so quick to prepare..perfect after a long day at work!

  2. Yummy Piper!

    I just made this for dinner and my husband and I just gobbled it up! We almost ate all of it in one sitting, but decided to save some for lunch tomorrow. I did add extra lime juice and about half the fish sauce called for, but the spice was perfect!

    Great recipe!

  3. I agree, we can eat a bunch of Larb Gai at our house too, but it's pretty healthy, so no regrets! More lime juice? Heck yeah, that sounds perfect!!! So glad you liked it Cassie!