Last week I was at my office, minding my own business. Then, some delicious smells started wafting around. At first, I dismissed it. There's a commercial kitchen below us, and I'm used to smelling delicious food all.day.long. But, the smell stayed in our office and tormented me.
Finally, I asked my co-worker what she was eating for lunch. She responded, "Oh, just some Larb (pronounced LAHB, I think), it's pretty good." I moseyed over to her and starting inspecting her lunch, because I have very little disregard to anyone's ability to enjoy their lunch in private.
What I loved about this dish is that it's crazy simple, you just probably haven't thought of this particular combination just yet. The thing that was the most interesting to me was the use of uncooked, toasted rice. My coworker insisted that it was necessary, although I'll admit I grumbled a little bit about it. But, she was so right. Toasting the rice adds a super rich nutty flavor to the dish. It is exceptional and completely worth the extra time!
Ready? Okay, let's get started!
First, you toast the rice. It'll start popping like popcorn and moving around the pan. Super cool. Once it's toasted, you'll grind the toasted rice down using a food processor or a mortar and pestle. I think a mortar and pestle is best to get a really fine texture, but I don't have one (yet).
Next, you'll use the same pan to cook the ground chicken. Feel free to substitute ground pork or turkey. Once the chicken is mostly done, you'll add in the rest of the ingredients.
Combine all of the ingredients, serve with iceberg lettuce leaves and plenty of sriracha!
Vietnamese Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Larb)
Healthy and flavorful Thai-style chicken lettuce wraps flavored with lime, cilantro, sriracha and other spices.
- 4 heaping tablespoon basmati rice
- 1 lb ground chicken breast
- 2 limes
- ½ shallot, thinly sliced
- 10 sprigs of cilantro, finely diced
- 2 green onions, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon sriracha (or 1 teaspoon sambal oelek)
- 5 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped into large pieces
- Sriracha, cilantro, and lime wedges for topping
- Heat large skillet on medium-high for several minutes. Lower the heat to low-medium, then add the rice. Do not grease the pan.
- Stir constantly until rice is toasted and brown, about five minutes. You will see the rice between to "pop" and release a nutty aroma, almost like popcorn.
- Carefully pour rice into food processor, and grind until the rice is reduced into smaller pieces. The smaller, the better.
- Return skillet to stove, set to medium heat.
- Add ground chicken and juice of one lime. Do not grease pan. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and is crumbling.
- Remove skillet from heat. Add juice of 1 lime, shallot, cilantro, green onions, chili powder, and fish sauce, stir well.
- Serve chicken with iceberg lettuce, top with cilantro and sriracha if desired.