Another 5-2 fast day, another salad. This time Larb Gai, an incredibly refreshing sweet, spicy, hot and sour Thai chicken salad. I love this dish not only for its big, bold, flavours but also for it’s lazy preparation. After just a little slicing and dicing and a very quick sear in a hot wok, the salad comes alive in a matter of moments. Deliciously fragrant, it’s a riot of colour on my plate. Little wonder it’s one my fast day favourites, especially so at the end of those days when my stomach won’t stop rumbling and all I can think about is food.
Larb Gai. Thai Chicken Salad.
Serves 4 (293 calories per serve)
2 tablespoons uncooked jasmine rice (90 calories)
1 tablespoon peanut oil (120 calories)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (8 calories)
2 long red chillies, minced (36 calories)
1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, chopped (10 calories)
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (18 calories
500g lean free range chicken mince (680 calories)
juice and finely grated zest of 2 limes (12 calories)
2 tablespoons fish sauce (12 calories)
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar (26 calories)
1/2 medium red onion, quartered and thinly sliced (24 calories)
1 cup bamboo shoots, rinsed (25 calories)
1/2 cup coriander leaves, picked from stems (8 calories)
1/2 cup mint leaves, picked from stems (8 calories)
separated leaves of one small head of lettuce, to serve (45 calories)
1 Lebanese cucumber, finely diced, to serve (24 calories)
1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, to serve (27 calories)
HEAT wok over medium heat. Add rice and cook, stirring continuously, for about 3 minutes until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a mortar and gently pound with a pestle until crushed. Set aside.
ADD oil to wok and swirl to coat. Add garlic, chilli, lemongrass and ginger. Stir-fry until fragrant.
INCREASE heat to high, add chicken and continue to stir fry, using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any lumps, for 10 minutes until mince begins to brown and is cooked through. Remove from heat.
COMBINE lime zest and juice, sugar and fish sauce in a small jug or bowl. Pour over chicken mixture. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Check seasoning. If mixture is too salty add a little more lime, too sour a little more fish sauce.
ADD red onion, bamboo shoots, mint and coriander leaves. Toss gently before transferring to a platter to serve. Scatter over toasted ground rice.
SERVE with lettuce leaf cups and garnish with diced cucumber and cherry tomatoes.
It’s a fast day favourite in our house too. So much flavour for so little effort and easily bulked out with lots of salad for low calories. Yum, my mouth is watering.
Totally agree. It’s so easy to “fast” with meals like these. I’m sure an “authentic” larb isn’t served with quite so much lettuce, tomato and cucumber but they bulk out the meal beautifully.
I’m trying this out on Wednesday. I love larb. I didn’t know it was so low in calories. I’ll be making it without the sugar. Maybe I can add grated carrot for the sweetness.
The carrot would work… successful fasting is all about improvisation so that you can enjoy at least one vibrant and delicious meal during the day. Hope you enjoy it.
Yum! Larb is one of my favourite dishes 🙂
Mine too. We’ve been enjoying a lot of Asian inspired fast day meals lately.
Cooking for one and not a good cook – never sure how much to adjust things like herbs and spices! I guess this recipe wouldn’t be too hard to adjust but would love some guidelines sometimes as I either put too much in or not enough to taste!
The wonderful thing about this recipe is that there are no hard and fast rules – it can be adjusted to make it as spicy, salty, sweet or sour as your tastebuds allow. The quantities given are really just a guide. The larb mixture stores well in the refrigerator (only add salad ingredients; lettuce, tomato, cucumber and even bamboo shoots, just before serving) so I always make enough to have leftovers for lunch. Cooking for one – just halve all the ingredients to make 2 serves – one for the plate and one for fridge leftovers. You will only need a scant tablespoon of lemongrass (citronella) but once prepared and chopped it freezes well and will be ready for next time. No access to lemongrass just leave it out and perhaps add a little more lime in the dressing. Lemons can also be substituted for the more traditional lime.
With the seasonings – once larb mixture is made adjust to taste as follows : More sweetness? Add another pinch of sugar. More saltiness? A few more drops of fish sauce. More spiciness? A little more chilli. More sourness? Another squeeze of lime. Hope this all makes sense.
Just been re reading your 5:2 journey seeking inspiration as after a year I have lost only 7 kilos and am wavering(not sure which came first) I think I have got into the habit of eating the same food over and over…same soups, lots of salad and eggs. I will try to follow your example and cook more colourful tempting foods. I have no excuse with all your wonderful recipes to choose from.
Hope you enjoy the recipes and they spur you on to even greater success.