Kris Yenbangroom shares his unique style of Thai cooking made famous at his L.A. restaurant in Night + Market.
This is what I call “gateway larb.” That’s partly because it’s the restaurant’s biggest seller in the larb genre, but also because it’s extremely straightforward to prepare—there’s no oh wow, that’s how you make it revelation to be had. By the strictest definition, larb equals meat that is chopped, cooked, and seasoned. From there, a million spin-off variations are possible. Do you cook the meat in oil? Do you drain it or leave it wet? Do you add in chopped offal?
But before your head starts swimming with infinite possibilities, this Isaan-style chicken larb is the one you want to master first. An essential larb-making skill is seasoning the meat in the correct order, i.e., don’t throw in everything at once and mush it all together. Ideally you’ll dress your larb in the moment— à la minute, in chef speak—and then serve it immediately.
- Put the chicken in a small saucepan and cover with water, stirring over medium heat until the chicken is opaque but still soft. Use a spatula or spoon to break the meat up into small clumps. Drain off the water, then stir in the fish sauce and sugar until they’re completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let it cool.
- Once the chicken is cool, add the seasonings, in this order, giving a quick toss after each addition: the chile powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add the rice powder at the last moment, then plate. Serve with green cabbage, sliced cucumber, raw green beans, and sticky rice on the side.
Reprinted from Night + Market. Copyright © 2017 by Kris Yenbamroong. Photographs by Marcus Nilsson. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.