Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Larb Gai - Hungry Monkey Style

No - Hungry Monkey Style isn't a kung fu move (well, maybe it is, but I haven't had my formal kung fu eduction yet from FP). It's a reference to the book, Hungry Monkey, by local Seattle author Matthew Amster-Burton. It's a memoir of his experience feeding and cooking with his young daughter, Iris. I read it some time ago, and the recipe we've been making out of it most is for the Thai ground chicken dish, Larb Gai. It's easy, cheap, and as good cold as it is hot - so makes great leftovers (and would probably be perfect picnic food). Amster-Burton admits this version isn't exactly true to the authentic dish (which poaches the chicken in seasoned liquid), but it's damn good.

Larb Gai
2 Tbspn white rice (jasmine or Thai sticky rice preferably)
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 Tbpsn sliced scallions
1 Tbpsn peanut oil
2 Tbpsn fish sauce
3 Tbpsn lime juice
1 tspn crushed red chili flakes
cabbage leaves

Place the rice in a skillet over medium-high heat, toasting them while shaking the pan occasionally, until golden brown. Remove from heat. Place chicken thighs in a food processor and pulse until well ground but not a paste - about ten one-second pulses. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, shallots and scallions. Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken mixture and cook until no longer pink and just starting to brown - about 5 minutes. While the chicken cooks, stir together the fish sauce, lime juice, and chili flakes, and grind the toasted rice into a powder using a clean spice or coffee grinder. Turn the chicken mixture out into a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and rice powder to taste. Serve with rice and green cabbage cut into large wedges. To eat, peel leaves off the outside of the cabbage wedge and wrap a small amount of larb in the cabbage.

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