Aida here from Salt & Wind, where we’re on a mission to help you taste the world. I travel on the regular in search of the best food out there and then recreate those tastes back home. So, I’m excited to share those flavors with you in this new Global Kitchen series here on The Kitchenthusiast blog.
My most recent travels found me on my first trip to Thailand and I fell even more in love with Thai food than ever before. Growing up in Southern California, I ate a lot of amazing Thai food (FYI, the Thai Town in Los Angeles is worthy of its own food crawl, should you find yourself here), but I never really cooked much Thai food until recently. And the recipe I started with was the meat salad known as larb. But calling this “meat salad” doesn’t really do it justice as it’s more like Thai lettuce wraps that you’ll want to serve for everything from a weeknight meal to a cocktail party.
You’ve probably seen larb on the menu at your local Thai restaurant and, if you’ve tried it, you know that the combo of herbs, sautéed meat, and spices makes for something totally special. What’s particularly great about larb is that it’s really easy and quick to make. Actually, larb is fast enough for a weeknight meal, so you can have a taste of Thailand in just a few minutes.
Oh, and, if chicken isn’t your thing, don’t worry because larb is super versatile. Make it with what you want—pork, duck or even tofu. The key is getting really good meat and super fresh vegetables.
For this recipe, I’m partial to using freshly ground meat. In Thailand, the larb is made with super finely ground meat and you won’t usually get that from most store bought ground meat. I’ve found that using my KitchenAid® Stand Mixer fit with the Food Grinder attachment is key to get the right texture for larb. I like to mix all the main flavors—the lemongrass, chiles, and garlic—in with the meat and then grind it so that you get major flavor in every bite.
To get started, have all the ingredients prepped and chopped before you begin cooking. Because you are going to pass the chicken, the onion, the lemongrass, the chiles, and the garlic through the Food Grinder, you don’t need them perfectly cut, but just try to get them small enough to pass through the feed.
In a medium bowl, stir together the prepped chicken, the onion, the lemongrass, the chiles, the garlic, and salt until they’re thoroughly combined. Make sure everything is evenly mixed because you want all those flavors coming through in every bite.
Place about a third of the chicken mixture in the Stand Mixer fit with the Food Grinder attachment.
Switch the Stand Mixer to the stir setting, place a bowl under the grinder spout, and feed the remaining chicken mixture into the Food Grinder.
Once most of the chicken mixture is in the Food Grinder, you can increase the speed of the mixer so it grinds more quickly.
Cook the chicken mixture until it’s golden brown then add in half of the lime juice dressing mixture. Remove the mixture from the heat, taste, and, as desired, add in addition lime juice dressing mixture.
Once the larb is flavored to your liking, serve it as you like. You can toss it all together for a quick salad or scoop it into lettuce leaves for a cocktail party-worthy appetizer.
For a quick meal, I serve it all deconstructed—with lettuce leaves, mint, cilantro, cucumber, scallions, lime wedges, and additional Sriracha sauce—so everyone can add as much or little of the toppings as they’d like!
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Thai-Style Lemongrass Chicken and Herb Wraps
Makes 4 servings
For the larb
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2/3 cup roughly chopped red onion
1/4 cup roughly chopped lemongrass (from about 2 pieces of lemongrass)
1-3 Thai chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped (use fewer and seed for less spicy)
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil or another neutral oil, for sautéing
For the lime dressing
4 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Dash Srirarcha or another chile-garlic sauce, plus more for serving
Baby Romaine hearts, little gems or butter lettuce leaves
Thinly sliced Persian cucumbers
Fresh mint leaves
Thinly sliced scallions (green onions)
For the larb
Stir together the chicken, the red onion, the lemongrass, the chiles, the garlic, and the salt in a medium bowl. Fit the KitchenAid® Stand Mixer with the Food Grinder attachment and the large holed blade, place a bowl under the grinder spout, and turn the Stand Mixer on to stir level.
Place the meat mixture into the Food Grinder feed, spoonful by spoonful, until it is all used up. Increase the Stand Mixer speed to medium once you have most of the mixture in the grinder. Set mixture aside until ready to cook (keep it very cold until you’re ready to cook it).
Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the meat mixture and stir to coat. Cook the mixture, breaking it up into small, uniform pieces and cook until the chicken is cooked.
For the lime dressing
Meanwhile, combine the fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, and Sriracha in a jar or bowl and shake or whisk to combine. Add half of the lime juice mixture to the pan and stir to coat. Remove the chicken mixture from the heat.
Add the chicken larb to a serving bowl along with as much of the additional lime juice as desired.
Serve with additional Sriracha, lettuce, cucumbers, mint, cilantro, scallions, and lime.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*