This Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey is seasoned with chiles, lime juice, and fish sauce. It's quick to make and filled with fresh, savory flavor.
A few months before we met, Mr. Dreamboat spent a few months traveling around southeast Asia. He went to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He loved the food in all of the countries but spoke especially fondly of Larb he ate in Laos.
When we were dating, we ordered it at a restaurant, and I loved it too. After tasting it, and perusing several recipes, I knew I could make it myself. With my recipe for Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey, so can you.
The dish is traditionally made with minced beef. I usually use store-bought ground turkey instead, because that's what I prefer. However, it can be made either way and tastes great both ways.
The ingredient list is short, and for the most part the ingredients are readily accessible. You will need rice, oil, ground turkey, shallots (I have substituted red onions at times with equally delicious results), lemongrass, mint, hot red peppers, chili flakes, lime juice and fish sauce.
How to make Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey:
One of the key ingredients that gives this minced turkey its distinct texture is rice. But the rice in this recipe does not get boiled or steamed like you might expect. Instead, it gets roasted and ground into a coarse powder which serves to slightly thicken and add a crunchy texture to the dish.
Roast the rice in a dry skillet over medium heat until it's golden brown. Then let it cool and grind it using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder.
The turkey is the only other ingredient that gets cooked. Everything else is just minced and stirred into the browned turkey, making this dish incredibly fast and easy to prepare. If you are in a rush, roast and grind the rice ahead of time. If you know you're going to be making this dish several times in the next while, you can even make a double or triple batch of roasted rice, and save the extras for later.
The prepared dish is usually served either lukewarm or cold, but not hot. It is typically served with rice, and is often served with whole lettuce leaves to allow people to make lettuce wraps with the minced turkey and rice.
The recipe I have provided is much less spicy than it would traditionally be, though it does still have a bit of a kick. If you love your food extra hot, use extra hot peppers and/or chili flakes.
Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey Ingredients:
- Rice - any type of rice will do
- Ground turkey - you can also replace this with ground beef or ground chicken
- Canola oil or any other neutral-flavored oil
- Lemongrass - be sure to use only the tender inner part of the bottom 2-3 inches. Depending on where you live, it can be challenging to find. If you live close to any Asian markets, you can likely find it there. Note that some stores might sell it frozen which is a fine option.
- Dried chile flakes
- Red chile - you will be able to find these in a well-stocked supermarket. If you can't specifically find Thai (bird's eye) chiles, try arbol chiles instead, though they are less spicy.
- Lime juice - fresh is preferred, but you can use bottled too.
- Fish sauce
- Mint leaves
Want more Ground Turkey recipes?
Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey Nutrition Notes:
The nutrition info in the recipe below uses ground turkey. If you use regular or lean ground beef to make this recipe, the total fat and saturated fat content will be higher, as will the calories. If you use ground chicken, the nutrition facts will be similar as what's listed in the recipe.
Note that the nutrition information does not include any additional lettuce leaves or rice that it would often be served with.
Laotian Spicy Minced Turkey
- 2 tablespoon rice
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 3-4 stalks lemongrass (use only the tender inner part of the bottom 2-3 inches), thinly sliced
- 1 large shallots (or 2 medium), thinly sliced
- ½ teaspoon dried chile flakes see note
- 1 large Thai red chile (aka Bird's eye chile) thinly sliced
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ cup loosely packed mint leaves torn
- Place rice in a small dry skillet. Roast over medium heat until fragrant and golden brown, about 10 minutes, shaking occasionally. Transfer to a plate or bowl to cool. When cool, place in a mortar or spice grinder, and grind until it is the consistency of coarse sand.
- Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet or wok over high heat. Add turkey and break up with a wooden spoon. Cook until turkey is well browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl to cool.
- Add all remaining ingredients to turkey and stir to combine. Serve immediately, lukewarm. Serve on top of lettuce or cabbage leaves if you wish, with rice on the side.
Nutrition Disclaimer: I try my best to make sure the nutrition information I provide is accurate to provide you with the best information possible. However, due to ingredient discrepancies and other factors, the above nutrition information should be considered an estimation only.
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