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Thai-Style Spicy Chicken in Lettuce Cups

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.

This spicy ground-chicken dish is known as larb in Laos and Thailand. It’s often served over lettuce, cabbage, or vegetables, with steamed sticky rice. We like to serve it in lettuce cups for an Asian take on tacos.


  • 3 Tbs. uncooked jasmine rice
  • 3 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed, outer layers removed, and inner core minced (1 Tbs.)
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
  • 1-1/4 lb. ground chicken, preferably dark meat
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (1/3 cup)
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 3 medium scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 medium head butter lettuce, for serving

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 240
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 110
  • Fat (g): 12
  • Saturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 120
  • Sodium (mg): 1130
  • Carbohydrates (g): 8
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 27


  • Toast the rice in an 8-inch skillet over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until golden, 4 to 5 minutes (the rice will begin to smoke after a couple of minutes). Let the rice cool slightly and then grind in a spice grinder until the largest pieces resemble very coarse cornmeal; the mixture should not be completely powdery.

    Combine the fish sauce, lemongrass, pepper flakes, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup water in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and bring to a simmer over high heat. Separate the chicken into large clumps and add to the pan. Cook, breaking up the chicken into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat is no longer pink, 5 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the ground rice over the chicken and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the liquid in the pan has thickened, about 2 minutes longer.

    Remove from the heat. Stir in the shallot. Sprinkle with the lime juice, scallions, cilantro, and mint and stir gently to combine. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the remaining ground rice. Serve with the lettuce leaves on the side to use as cups for the chicken.

Serve with crunchy Thai Radish Salad and Steamed Jasmine Rice.


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Reviews (9 reviews)

  • MommyDot | 01/01/2013

    Good, but I would slightly reduce the fish sauce and mint next time. I felt they competed with each other too much and overshadowed the other lovely tastes. The toasted rice was a nice crunch to the meal, which we did as lettuce wraps.

  • h20man | 11/27/2011

    Wow! I Love this one. Flavors really deliver ! Gets easier/faster everytime you make it. A few suggestions to consider:#1. Meat.It's sooo good you'll want more. Double-2x the recipe and use half chicken & half pork.#2. Lemongrass.Use the lemongrass in the tube. It's delicious and quick.#3. Jasmine rice.Roast/grind 1/2-cup of rice and save in a ziplock bag for a few more runs at this savory delight.Hope that helps.Cheers!David

  • Javajane | 09/03/2011

    Very tasty, easy week-night dish. I thought that all of the flavors melded perfectly. I made the rice, added it as a thickener, but forgot to add it at the end. I didn't really miss it. As a side, I made a green bean salad with an Asian vinaigrette. It went really well with the addition of some jasmine rice.

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