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Dinner Tonight! | QUICK FIX

A Gai You're Really Going to Love

February 14, 2001|JET TILA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Larb Gai is a light, flavorful dish from northern Thailand. The sour, spicy and sweet tastes will keep your interest, and you probably won't realize you're not actually eating a lot.

After a bite of the chicken, take a cool bite of carrots, cucumber or cabbage to counteract the chiles. (Conversely, you can boost the heat level by adding more red pepper flakes.) Wash thi1931506544 If you prefer, substitute seafood or another meat for the chicken.

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Larb Gai

Cold beer

GAME PLAN

30 minutes before: Toast the rice for the Roasted Rice Powder. Mince garlic and shallots.

20 minutes before: Combine chicken with tamarind paste. Cook it with garlic and shallots.

10 minutes before: Slice carrots and cucumber, cut up cabbage and onions.

Just before serving: Arrange Larb Gai and vegetables on serving plates.

INGREDIENTS

Shopping List

Cabbage

Ground chicken

Cucumber

Green onions

Limes

Fresh mint

Red onion

Shallots

Tamarind paste

Thai fish sauce

Staples

Carrots

Garlic

Jasmine rice

Oil

Red pepper flakes

Sugar

Larb Gai

Tamarind paste is sold in small "bricks" at Asian markets.

Active Work and Total Preparation Time: 30 minutes

CHICKEN

1/4 cup tamarind paste

1/3 cup very hot water

2 pounds ground chicken or turkey breast

1 tablespoon oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 2 shallots, thinly sliced

1/4 cup Thai fish sauce

1/4 cup lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

1 to 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

1 cup mint leaves, packed

1 cup sliced red onion

Roasted Rice Powder

4 to 5 green onions, chopped

1 cucumber, sliced

1 carrot, sliced

Cabbage wedges

Mix together the tamarind paste and the water, then press it through a sieve; it'll be like a paste. Combine it with the chicken and let it stand for 2 minutes.

Heat a medium skillet over high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and shallots and cook until the shallots start to become translucent, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken to the pan; stir until it's cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer the chicken, garlic and shallots to a large bowl. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and pepper flakes. Add the mint leaves, red onion and Roasted Rice Powder and toss to mix. Divide the chicken mixture among 6 plates. Arrange the green onions, cucumber and carrot slices along with the cabbage wedges around each plate and serve.

ROASTED RICE POWDER

1/3 cup jasmine rice

Toast the rice in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Keep stirring as the rice cooks. Once the rice is light brown and fragrant, transfer it to a blender or food processor. Blend the rice until it's rough and the grains are about 1/4 their original size. Set aside.

6 servings. Each serving: 216 calories; 431 mg sodium; 66 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 16 grams carbohydrates; 29 grams protein; 2.08 grams fiber.

*

* Plate from Yuzu, Pasadena.

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