I had a surprising revelation while I was making my dog’s food the other day.
Previously, I quickly figured out that their food is much healthier and sometimes of better quality than the meals Tom and I eat. But that wasn’t it; that wasn’t news to me.
It also hadn’t taken me long before realizing that if you have really good-quality meat, cooking it without the fat and seasonings we humans like to use, doesn’t compromise the flavor. Yes, I snack on their food as I cook it.
What I hadn’t considered though, is grinding cooked meat. I used to start out with raw ground meat, which I often ground myself (wait, can you still call it ground meat when you put it in a food processor?). Yes? I agree.
So, the other day, I had just baked off some large turkey breasts and when they had cooled down, I chunked the meat and put it into my Magimix. What I ended up with was highly flavorful, nicely minced meat.
Okay, so this was not an earth-shattering revelation, I realize. However, seeing as I had simultaneously been contemplating what to make for dinner, I realized the answer was, of course, Larb Gai!
Larb basically translates to “minced meat”. Of course the Gai is for chicken, but I have no idea what turkey is in Thai. But anyway, since I was staring down at a Magimix full of minced turkey meat… I knew what I needed to do next, regardless of the proper naming.
Yes, you guessed it, I needed to make more of that minced meat. You knew I wouldn’t steal the meat I had minced for my fur babies, now didn’t you?
So I did. Minced more meat, that is.
The first time Tom ordered Larb Gai from our old favorite Thai restaurant, Rama’s on Post (sadly no longer around), I was dubious. Not because Tom’s dad said it was the best Thai food outside of Thailand, but because the sound of a minced chicken salad kind of gave me the willies. I know, is that actually a thing?
It turned out to be delicious. For awhile, I couldn’t get enough.
I had to get past the fish sauce first, of course. Which I did and my refrigerator has not been without it for the past twenty years.
So, if you find yourself with a 1/2 lb of chicken breast (or turkey) that you don’t know what to do with and you are craving something light and crisp, salty and sweet with as much spice as your tongue will allow, this is what you should do:
- Put that breast (of chicken or turkey meat) on a baking sheet, adding just a wee bit of water (Stacey speak for about a 1/2 cup).
- Cover it with foil. Bake it at, say, 350-degrees F; it’s not all that particular, as long as the meat is cooked through.
- As the meat cooks, you can toast some brown (or white) rice. I like to use about 1/2 cup dried. When it is toasted, around 10 minutes in, let it cool then puree it in a grinder.
- Meanwhile, make a dressing by mixing together 2 TB fish sauce, 1 TB coconut sugar, (or whatever kind you have), 4 TB lime juice, a piece of chopped spicy chile pepper (such as a thai chili, jalepeno or seranno, or again, whatever you might have), and 7 TB of hot water (from the tap is just fine, albeit better if filtered).
- Sirracha sauce is also kind of a must-have. You can mix it into your dressing with sheer abandon or dole it out slowly, using a cautious hand. I like to build up the heat to just a comfortable burn. This allows others to add to the fire at their discretion, should they choose (AKA: pass the bottle to serve on the side).
- Give it a taste, adjusting as needed. I sometimes like to add extra lime juice to give it more tang. The sugar will help offset the heat and the water will balance the salt from the fish sauce. Information for your own personal use. Just say’in, have fun!
4. Dice up a sweet onion and chop a tassel of fresh basil, cilantro and mint.
5. When the breast of bird is cooked and cooled, mince it quickly in a food processor.
6. Mix together the minced meat, ground rice, dressing, sirracha sauce (as much as you dare), onions and herbs.
7. Adjust the flavors.
8. Serve a mound of the mixture over a leaf of lettuce or cabbage. If serving on individual plates, put enough leaves to be filled and wrapped in proportion.
9. Cooked brown or white rice is a nice side. Cucumber slices tossed in a little white or rice vinegar + sugar + salt are a nice garnish.
Don’t forget, as I mentioned, make sure to have fun (and good to share in a group)!