Fresh, crispy lettuce parcels filled with fried chicken? All the flavours of a Thai laab salad and all the crunch of a san choy bow? So much yes. Salad just got interesting.
500g (1 lb) boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tbsp raw glutinous rice*
vegetable oil, for deep frying
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
5 Asian red shallots, finely sliced, plus extra for garnish
½ cup fresh mint leaves
3 tbsp finely sliced sawtooth coriander* (optional)
2 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
butter lettuce leaves, to serve
long red dried chilli, fried, snipped into pieces, for garnish (optional)
3 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp grated palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tbsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
2 tbsp lime juice
Season the chicken pieces with some salt and let it sit for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the rice in a dry frying pan over high heat until golden brown. Remove from heat and use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder to grind rice to a fine powder. Set aside.
To make the dressing, combine ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside for later.
Fill a saucepan or wok to about one-third capacity with the vegetable oil and place over high heat until the oil is hot (325°F/165°C, or when a wooden spoon dipped into the oil forms small bubbles). Add flour to a large bowl or tray, then empty in the chicken pieces. Toss to coat evenly on all sides. Working in batches, shake off excess flour from the chicken and carefully slide the pieces into the oil. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a tray lined with paper towel to drain. (For extra crunch, you may want to double fry the chicken by returning the cooked pieces to the hot oil for a second round. If so, they’ll need a further 3 minutes or until the chicken is deeply golden and crispy. Otherwise continue to the next step.)
Place the warm chicken, shallots and rice powder in a large bowl and stir to combine. Then add the dressing and mix. Add the mint, coriander and spring onion and toss until well combined.
Transfer chicken mixture to a serving bowl. To serve, place individual lettuce leaves on a serving plate and top with chicken mixture. Sprinkle with extra red shallot and fried chilli, if using.
– Using glutinous or sticky rice will give you a softer rice powder that creates a thick and soft coating for the finished salad. If glutinous rice is unavailable you can still use regular long grain or jasmine rice to add a similar toasty flavour with a slightly crunchier texture.
– Sawtooth coriander is a type of Thai fresh herb. If unavailable, you can use regular coriander or simply leave it out.