Quick N Easy Asian Chicken Salad AKA Laab

In the past I’ve posted about laab before but it’s one of my favorite asian dishes so I thought I’d take new photos and share my process a little differently.

Laab is a spicy chicken, beef, pork, or fish dish usually eaten with lettuce and/or rice.  The main spices used to create the flavor are: hot peppers, lemon grass, ginger, galanga, and roasted uncooked white rice.  It can be time consuming chopping and roasting the rice and all and sometimes I don’t mind doing that but when I’m short on time or I’m just craving laab way too much, I reach for the seasoning mix.  You can buy this mix at pretty much any Asian market.

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Fresh ingredients.  Top clockwise: chopped mint leaves, chopped cilantro, thinly sliced shallots, chopped scallions and limes.  I tend to add more lime juice in mine than necessary.  One lime should be enough for 1 lb. of meat but I used two.

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Boiled chicken.  Allow the cooked chicken to cool a little before chopping it up to small pieces.  You can also use ground chicken (or other ground meats) and sautee in a pan with a bit of vegetable oil.  I prefer it boiled because it’s healthier and less oily.

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Use a pestle to mash it.  I do it directly in the bowl where all the ingredients will go in.

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Add the laab mix, the herbs, squeeze in the lime juices, and add a teaspoon or two of fish sauce (not shown).  I also add a tablespoon of reserved chicken broth so that it’s not too dry.

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This is a very spicy salad so have it with a large glass of water.

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Spicy Green Papaya Salad With A Twist

Recently, I’ve been craving papaya salad with Romaine lettuce.  The freshness and crunchiness from the lettuce combined with the sweet, sour, and spicy papaya is like heaven.  The spicy peanuts on top makes it heaven x2.  I only bought a small papaya salad so I finished it all in a day and a half.  I still have some lettuce left and am thinking of dropping by the Asian market for another papaya.

I’ve been making papaya salad without the shrimp paste (a crucial part of the ingredients, if you are Hmong).  A few months back, I had run out of shrimp paste and was worried my papaya wouldn’t taste right but for some reason, it was awesome!  Strange as it may seem, I could somehow taste and smell a very subtle shrimp paste flavor when I eat it.  I guess that’s why I don’t need it anymore.

There are so many spicy green papaya salad versions out there.  I tried to find one that would be closest to how I make it and came upon this one at Hmongfood.info.  I would say, one of the most important ingredient in papaya salad is tamarind, in liquid form.  I’ve had papaya salad at restaurants without this and they aren’t as flavorful.  Of course, just tamarind alone would not make the papaya salad.  It is the combination of different ingredients measured correctly that create the perfect palate experience, and one I call, heaven. 🙂