Really, this is more than vaguely Thai – it’s Laab (or Larb) Gai, only I’ve removed the traditional roasted and ground Thai sticky rice – which I didn’t have – and replaced it with bulgur, which I did have. I’m sure it changes both the flavour and the texture, but that’s just how it goes sometimes, especially when you live in the boonies and are avoiding rice. I’d also say that made it faster and easier to make, and I never complain about that. If you are even more driven to avoid carbs than I am, you could replace even the bulgur with some very finely chopped/ground nuts or seeds.
Not sure this is traditionally served in lettuce cups as a Thai dish either, but it seems to have become a popular way to present it in North America, and since I didn’t want to eat it with rice, it’s a very convenient way to have it. I thought it needed a touch of colour so I wedged up a tomato which did the job and added a nice element to it.
Served by itself, the two of us ate all of this and still wanted some dessert, but as ever with different eaters and more dishes served with it, it would go further.
2 to 4 servings
1 hour – 30 minutes prep time
1/4 cup bulgur
450 grams (1 pound) ground chicken OR skinless boneless chicken thighs
the juice of 1 large lime
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 or 2 fresh OR 6 dry makrut lime leaves
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions
1 small greenhouse cucumber
OR 3 or 4 red radishes
12 or 16 large, slightly cupped lettuce leaves
Boil some water to cover and soak the bulgur. Meanwhile, chop the chicken very finely, or if it is already ground, jut put it in a mixing bowl. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, and makrut lime leaves – whole if they are dry, very finely shredded if they are fresh. Mix well and set aside to marinate as you proceed.
Peel and mince the garlic and shallots, and set them aside with the chile flakes.
Heat the oil in a large skillet and add the chicken, with the marinade. Drain the bulgur well and it as as well. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the marinade has evaporated and the chicken is sizzling, lightly browned, and cooked through. Add the garlic, shallots, and chile flakes and mix in well; cook for another minute or so longer. Remove the mixture from the pan to cool, if you think it is hot enough that it will keep it cooking for too long; but the main point is that it should be cooled to room temperature or near it. Remove and discard the dry makrut lime leaves, if used.
Wash, trim, and mince the herbs and green onions. Trim and chop the cucumber or radishes finely. Wash the lettuce leaves and drain and dry them well. They should be as even in size as you can manage, which means it’s best to have 2 heads of lettuce at hand and put the remains away for a more conventional chopped salad.
Mix the herbs, onions, and cucumber or radishes into the chicken once it is cool. Divide it evenly in little mounds amongst the prepared lettuce leaves, and pick ’em up and eat them like little tacos, which is to say that it’s a good idea to have plenty of serviettes on hand.
Last year at this time I made Rhubarb Ile Flottante.