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Today, we feature an Asian salad great served warm or cold, featuring so many of those great South East Asian herbs and spices that combine so well in a salad.
Chicken larb is usually associated with Thailand but it is just as popular in Laos and possibly even superior to the Thai version.
Chances are you may not know a lot about Lao cuisine. Laos flies under the radar behind adjoining neighbors Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Naturally there is an influence from each of those countries on Lao cuisine. But I can attest that Lao cuisine is just as good as you will eat in any of the aforementioned countries – and like Cambodia it is incredibly cheap on the hip pocket.
The highlight of any trip to Laos, is surely relaxed Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town sitting magnificently beside the Mekong River, surrounded by glorious mountains. Here we share 2 of our favorite restaurants from Luang Prabang. Read on to discover why you should go before everyone discovers this jewel on the Mekong River.
Magnificent Luang Prabang
There is a good reason Luang Prabang is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is simply stunning.
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You often hear terms like Zen and names like Shangri La to describe mystical places where it is impossible not to relax. That is Luang Prabang to a tee. If you can, plan to arrive in Luang Prabang by slow boat, you will be well-relaxed by the time you arrive in Luang Prabang.
And when it is time to eat, put your walking shoes on and head for the bamboo bridge over the Nam Khan River (dry season only) which runs behind Luang Prabang, where there are 2 brilliant restaurants to choose from:
For some fabulous Lao cuisine, try Dyen Sabai. Set in a magnificent bamboo garden and away from the hustle and bustle of Luang Prabang, immerse yourself and be totally blown away. Here you can enjoy fabulous cocktails (2 for 1 happy hour from midday through 7pm), great food, play board games or simply just relax on the Lao-style futons or western-style furniture.
Plan to arrive in the late afternoon and enjoy the sunset and great views of Luang Prabang over a cocktail or Beer Lao, our favorite South East Asian beer. Make sure you stay for dinner.
The Lao fondue (an Asian hotpot) is fabulous. You are given a generous plate of food and a bowl of broth over heat. You cook the food in the fondue as you go. It is a fun experience.
Our second recommendation is just a little further than Dyen Sabai, aimed at those who have maybe been in South East Asia for a prolonged period and may be looking for some western-style pizza.
I don’t usually recommend eating pizza in a place like Luang Prabang, but in the village of Ban Phan Luang there is family owned and operated wood fired pizza place called Pizza Phan Luang.
The pizza at this establishment is so good I just had to write about it. At the time of writing it was rated the 3rd best restaurant in Luang Prabang. Yes it is that good! And only 5 minutes from the bamboo bridge.
Eating in Luang Prabang is a great experience. Next week we will feature 3 more great Luang Prabang restaurants in the town proper. Stay tuned, you won’t be disappointed. But now it is time to feature some great Lao cuisine with this Chicken Larb dish.
Chicken Larb from Luang Prabang
What is it about Asian salads that makes them so appealing?
Is it the combination of sweet, sour, hot, and salty. Is it the citrus hit from the kaffir lime leaves and lime juice? Or is it the generous use of fresh herbs that just brings the whole salad to life?
Many good supermarkets stock most of the required ingredients. But if you can, get yourself to an Asian supermarket, where you will surely find all of the ingredients. Trust me it is worth it. (And if you are in the USA and don’t live near a shop, order it on Amazon, even the fresh ingredients are available!)
More Asian Dishes with Spice
If you enjoy spicy dishes, then try these ones:
Ema Datshi, the beloved, cheese chili dish from Bhutan. It’s also quick and easy to make from everyday ingredients.
Fish Amok is warm but delightfully creamy and is also the national dish of Cambodia.
If you enjoy your curries, here is an easy recipe for Green Curry Paste. It is the foundation for Chicken with Green Curry. You will find more Thai recipes here. including Thai Fish Cakes, made with the classic, Red Curry Paste.
Another, refreshing Asian salad is Green Papaya Salad from Vietnam.
|Servings||Prep Time||Cook Time|
- Roasted Sticky Rice Powder
- 1/2 cup rice, glutinous (sticky)
- 4 slices galangal thinly sliced
- 2 kaffir lime leaves coarsely torn
- 1 stalk lemongrass thinly sliced
- Chicken Larb
- 4 tbsp chicken stock
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 lb chicken, fillets
- 1/2 tsp salt, ground sea
- 2 tbsp basil leaves Thai-style if possible
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 4 onions, green (spring) finely chopped
- 3 tbsp shallots thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp cilantro (coriander) finely chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mint, fresh, leaves only roughly chopped
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 1 red chili, long Asian style optional, try 2 if you like warmer salads
- 1 tbsp galangal thinly sliced
- 1/2 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce extra
- To Accompany
- lettuce leaves
- beans, green
- rice, glutinous (sticky)
- Make the roasted sticky rice powder. In a frying pan over low medium heat, dry roast the glutinous rice for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The rice should be a pale yellow color. Add the remaining ingredients and continue to stir for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool and then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle.
- In the same frying pan over a medium heat, bring the stock and fish sauce to a boil and then add the finely chopped chicken. Toss for 3 to 4 minutes until the chicken is cooked and no longer pink.
- Transfer the chicken to a bowl and while still warm, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of the roasted sticky rice powder. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
- Arrange on a serving platter. Serve with lettuce leaves, green beans, cucumber and sticky rice.
Sophia | Veggies Don't Bite
I’ve never heard of this dish before but it looks very fresh! I love the combination of cilantro, mint, lime and chili especially!
The tastes in this dish work really well together. It is extremely refreshing and it is one of our favorite dishes.
I love Thai dishes! Beautiful photos of this dish, too.
Thank you for that. Chicken larb is a highlight. So refreshing with great taste combinations.
I have wanted to travel to Asia for a long time. My daughter was lucky and was able to travel to Thailand a few years ago. She loved the food. I think the combination of sweet, sour, hot and salty is the best. I am sure this salad is great.
We love the food of South East Asia. It is definitely one of the great reasons to travel to that part of the world. We found this dish everywhere throughout Thailand and Laos (a hidden gem ignored by many travelers).
Debi at Life Currents
I’ve seen Larb on menus, but never even thought of making it at home. This recipe totally makes me want to make it at home! Thanks so much!
Hi Debi, I promise you if you make this dish you will enjoy it that much that you keep coming back to it. It is so refreshing.
Great recipe and pictures. This is something that I have never tried to make but can now, with your fantastic recipe. Thanks.
I hope you enjoy it. I think it is a highlight of Thai and Lao cooking. The combination of flavors work really well together.