The tastiest mouthfuls ever. The lime and mint flavour from these Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups just explodes in your mouth!
Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups – coriander and mint-flavoured chicken, spiced with chilli and red onion, sprinkled with peanuts and wrapped in lettuce leaves. You won’t find a more flavoursome mouthful anywhere. Guaranteed.
You can serve this as an appetiser, by wrapping the chicken in a lettuce leaf. If you prefer, you could serve the chicken as a main meal on a bed of fragrant jasmine rice. Either way, you have a winning combination.
The original Thai name for this chicken dish is Laab Gai. Made with pork it is called Laab Moo, or made with duck it is known as Laab Ped.
My introduction to Thai Laab
I was first introduced to Thai Laab at a new Thai restaurant which opened in Johannesburg, back in the late ’80s. It was served as a starter, and we were presented with numerous small dishes, containing peanuts, chilli sauce, garlic, chopped coriander, chopped mint, lime slices, and various other sauces. As I recall, there was no meat with that dish, we were just given a large bowl of white rice. We were told to take a piece of lettuce, add a spoonful of rice and then add a mixture of whatever we fancied from the small bowls. Then we had to wrap it into a ball and put the entire thing into our mouths. It was one of the most delicious things I had ever eaten. We ordered a second helping.
I’ve made it many times at home since. Over the years I’ve seen many recipes that I have combined and adapted to make this version. It has evolved to include minced chicken (as per the original Thai version) and most of the ingredients have made their way into the actual chicken itself rather than being served in separate dishes.
Authentic Laab Gai used toasted rice ground to a fine powder, as a thickening agent, which adds an additional depth of flavour to the dish. I have chosen to use cornflour to thicken my version, but if you want to use original Thai ground rice, you can get the recipe here.
How do you make Thai Chicken Lettuce Cups
I like to mince my own chicken – so the first step is to mince up raw chicken breasts. You could buy ready minced chicken from your local butcher if you prefer.
Mix all the ingredients for the sauce, give it a stir to dissolve the sugar, and put aside for the flavours to combine.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the garlic and ginger. Don’t allow it to brown or it will become bitter. Add the chicken and stir-fry until the chicken has separated and turned white. Season with salt to taste.
Now add the lemon juice, chilli flakes, red onion, coriander, and mint leaves and stir through.
Finally, give the sauce ingredients a stir and add to the chicken, and allow to simmer gently until the sauce has thickened
Spoon the chicken into a serving bowl and serve with a plate of lettuce leaves, and a bowl of crushed peanuts. Each person should wrap a spoonful of the chicken with a sprinkling of peanuts into a lettuce leaf and enjoy.
Thai Lettuce Cups
For the sauce
- ½ cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Cornflour
For the Chicken
- 2 large Chicken Breasts (minced)
- ½ teaspoon Ginger Paste or use the equivalent amount of fresh grated ginger
- 2 cloves Garlic (crushed)
- 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
- 1 teaspoon Chilli flakes
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Coriander (chopped)
- 2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint (chopped)
- 2 Tablespoons Peanuts (chopped) salted are fine (these are optional but give an authentic taste)
- ½ small Red onion (finely chopped)
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil for frying the chicken
- Baby Gem or equivalent Lettuce Leaves for serving
- Salt to taste for the chicken
- Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small mixing bowl until the sugar has dissolved, and set aside. See Note 2.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the garlic and ginger and fry gently for 1 minute. Do not allow the garlic to brown or it will become bitter.
- Add the chicken mince and fry over a gentle heat. Break it up with a wooden spoon and stir until it turns white and is cooked through. Add salt to taste.
- Add the lemon juice, chilli flakes, red onion, coriander and mint leaves and stir through.
- Add the sauce and stir through. Allow to simmer gently for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened.
- Serve in Lettuce leaves, garnished with chopped peanuts (optional) and extra chopped mint
- Adjust the chilli to your own taste.
- This dish can be served as a starter (as per the recipe above), or you can serve it as a main meal over rice. In this case, you will need to increase the ingredients for the sauce as follows:
- 1½ cups water
- 3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
- 3 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 1½ Tablespoons Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons cornflour
If you enjoyed this recipe why not pin it for later?
Other Thai recipes you may like:
If you’ve tried my Thai recipes please leave a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed them. I’d love to hear how it went.