Thai Salads

Dtam Khaep Muu

A salad is an integral part of any Thai meal. In fact, due to the huge variations of flavour profiles, there are often two or more salads in any meal.
The four types of salads in Thai cuisine are Yam, Laap, Dtam and Phlaa.
Naam Dtok can be regarded as a variation on the standard Laap; the meat on this occasion is first grilled over flame before being dressed the same way. Likewise with Goy, which is basically a raw version of a Laap and is absolutely delicious.
Of the four salad types, the flavours and textures can be vastly different, so experiment with different proteins and flavour profiles to wind up with a perfectly balanced Thai meal.

Lucky With Laap

Laap is an ancient salad thought to be auspicious and lucky, so is therefore often served at times of celebration. It is believed to have originated in Laos and consists of minced chicken, beef, duck, fish, pork or mushrooms flavoured with lime juice, fish sauce, roasted chillies, and fresh herbs

The spread of this dish was probably helped by the Haw, who were merchants from Yunnan in the South West of China. Today, the dish is regional to both Laos and Esaan, the NorthEastern region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia. It eventually spread to the North of Thailand and is now deservedly popular throughout the Kingdom.

The Yunnanese in Thailand and Laos represent an unbreakable link with China.

Laap Gai

With Laap Gai ลาบไก่, it's all about the chicken and how you prepare it. Whether free range or organic, get the freshest and best chicken you can buy, rather than buying already minced chicken; it will most likely be oxidised by the air and taste flat and fatty. Using a sharp, heavy knife or a cleaver, finely chop the chicken quickly with a sprinkle of salt, which will help sweeten it.

The secret ingredient which brings the dish to life is called Khao Khua (ข้าวคั่ว) in Thai. It is sticky rice which has been dry-roasted and then ground with a mortar and pestle until like coarse sand. This adds texture and a wonderful nuttiness to the Laap.

It's also about the dressing with this salad, so NEVER settle for bottled lime juice in ANY Thai salad, especially a Laap, where the taste is so prevalent. Trust me when I say that you CAN taste the difference. Using bottled lime juice is certainly becoming more prevalent in these days of speed and cost-saving, but there is simply NO replacement for fresh lime juice.

We Know Hua Hin


150 g (5 oz) skinless chicken breast or thigh fillets
50-100 g (2-4 oz) chicken offal, such as liver, heart and giblets - optional
pinch of salt
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped - optional
3 tbs stock
extra pinch of salt
pinch of white sugar
3 tbs lime juice
large pinch of roasted chilli powder
1 tbs fish sauce
3 red shallots, sliced
handful of mixed mint and coriander leaves
1 tbs shredded pak chii farang (long-leaf coriander)
1 tbs ground roasted rice


Mince the chicken with the salt and garlic, if using. If using offal, wash in salted and acidulated water to clean and remove and coarseness, then finely slice.

Heat stock and season with salt and sugar. Add the mince and offal, if using, and simmer, stirring often, until just cooked (about 3-4 minutes); do not overcook or the meat will toughen. Season with lime juice, roasted chilli powder and fish sauce. Mix in shallots and herbs. Check the seasoning - the salad should taste hot, sour and salty - and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Sprinkle with roasted rice.

Serve with a plate of raw vegetables such as cabbage, snake beans and cucumber.

Surprise Packet

Laap Gai

When you're next dining on Thai food, be sure to add at least one salad to the meal; often it will be more than one. Laap Gai is certainly one salad to give a try. Once you've tried it at a restaurant, give it a try at home, as it is simplicity personified. You will be delighted by the fluffiness hand-minced chicken gives to this dish, as well as the wonderful counter-balance the hot and sour dressing gives and the icing on top...the Khao Khua.
This dish has it all and is well worth a try.