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Larb Lettuce Cups | ลาบไก่ห่อผักสลัด

Larb Lettuce Cups | ลาบไก่ห่อผักสลัดWhen the boyfriend thinks of larb, he envisions eating it with a handful of warm sticky rice.  This is, after all, how it is generally eaten in Thailand.  

When I first learned about larb, I’ll be honest, I didn’t really associate it with anything.  But as I learned more about this wonderful Thai salad, I definitely agree that it goes quite well with sticky rice.  This belly-filling carbohydrate helps to transform the light and fresh salad into more of a meal.  And when served with other components of a Thai meal like grilled chicken (gai yang) and green papaya salad (som tam), it works really well. 

But as I’ve recently learned, larb also goes really well with a simple leaf of lettuce.  It works in completely the opposite way as sticky rice, by playing up the lightness of the salad and turning it into a refreshing little bite-sized appetizer.  The crispiness of the lettuce leaf balances the soft texture of the ground meat; the coolness of the lettuce counteracts the heat of the roasted chili flakes.  It makes for a perfect little starting bite at parties and other gatherings.

Around here, I have to admit, larb generally ends up being served with a container of warm sticky rice as well as a plate of cool, crisp lettuce leaves.  And somehow, this works too.  Larb Lettuce Cups | ลาบไก่ห่อผักสลัด

Larb Lettuce Cups | ลาบไก่ห่อผักสลัด

Makes 2 servings

Larb Lettuce Cups | ลาบไก่ห่อผักสลัด


  • 1 cup ground chicken
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup mint, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon toasted rice
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 head of butter leaf lettuce


  1. Chop your chicken finely with a sharp knife or food processor until it's ground.
  2. Prepare your herbs by slicing the shallots and chopping the cilantro and mint.
  3. Prepare your toasted rice by heating uncooked sticky rice on medium heat until it turns golden brown. Take off of heat and grind with mortar and pestle, or better yet, a coffee grinder until the rice particles are medium to fine in texture.
  4. Heat a pan to high heat. Add 2 Tablespoons of water (it should sizzle immediately) and then add the ground chicken. Cook until it's done and then transfer to a serving dish.
  5. Add the fish sauce and lime juice to the cooked chicken, starting with 1 Tablespoon of each and adjusting as needed according to your tastes. Then add the herbs, toasted rice, and chili flakes and mix everything together.
  6. Place a spoonful of the warm larb in a piece of cool butter leaf lettuce and enjoy!


11 comments… add one
  • Jay March 20, 2014, 9:30 am

    For me it’s got to be pork and the liver is crucial too. Larb without toasted rice? NO WAY. lol

    • Rachel March 20, 2014, 3:02 pm

      Haha, Jay, a friend of mine just made larb with liver and I couldn’t bring myself to try it! Seeing your enthusiasm, I think I’ll have to taste a little next time :)

  • Leanne October 1, 2012, 4:00 am

    is it okay if i exclude the toasted rice?

    • Rachel October 1, 2012, 4:06 am

      Sure, Leanne. You won’t get quite the same effect, but it should still be good :)

  • Sandi August 10, 2012, 4:07 am

    I made this for dinner tonight and everyone loved it. Thank you for sharing your delicious and easy recipes.

  • Rachel July 21, 2012, 10:31 am

    Thanks Terry! Glad you’re surviving the heat!

  • Terry Harikul July 21, 2012, 7:59 am

    I made this yesterday. It was perfect appertize before dinner after 102 F afternoon. Thanks Rachel.

  • LP @dishclips June 8, 2012, 11:09 pm

    I love lettuce cups. No need for utensils.

  • Ally June 7, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Wow thanks for sharing – this looks absolutely awesome!

  • Alyssa (Everyday Maven) June 6, 2012, 8:40 pm

    This sounds so delicious and perfect for a warm summer night! Bookmarking :)

  • Merryn Galluccio June 6, 2012, 4:52 pm

    I love your simple twist on chicken larb. What a brilliant idea to serve it in lettuce cups – a perfect san choy bau version cooked without oil, even better and wholesome. Thank you for sharing, I can already envision this for Friday evening’s starter course :D

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