Thai Foods Ep.2

Thai "Laab" Salad for Your Leftover Roast

by Thomas M. Tillman
Laab is a very basic Thai salad made with a simple dressing of fish sauce, lime juice and roasted chili flakes. The defining element of a laab (and the most delicious part) is the toasted rice powder, which is easy to make using any kind of white rice, though traditionally it is done with Thai sticky rice. It is not laab without toasted rice powder! For a true laab you want to have some mint and cilantro, but if you're just trying to make a quick laab using leftovers, throw in any fresh herbs you have on hand. Green onions, dill, oregano or even tarragon would work. And laab is always gluten-free and dairy-free, bonus!


Use up any leftover roast in a Thai laab, a northeastern Thai salad bright with mint and lime juice.


Note: I have provided a small "base" recipe so you can scale up to whatever quantity of leftovers you have. Be sure to scale up all ingredients proportionally; except the chilies, which you just add to taste.
  • 1 Tbsp uncooked white rice
  • Roughly 150 g leftover meat or vegetables
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp finely chopped palm sugar or light brown sugar
  • ¼ - ½ tsp dried chili flakes, to taste
  • 3 Tbsp finely julienned shallots
  • A big handful of mint and any other fresh herbs you have sitting around; cilantro, green onions, and dill are all good options.
  • Optional for serving: cucumber, crisp lettuce (if you want to make a wrap), rice or sticky rice


  1. Make toasted rice powder: In a dry saute pan, add the rice and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly until the rice has a deep brown colour. Remove from heat and grind into a powder in a mortar and pestle or using a coffee grinder.
  2. For leftover poultry, shred the meat into small strips. If using roast beef, thinly slice into bite-sized pieces. For roast veggies, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Heat the leftovers up slightly so they are warm or room temp.
  4. In a mixing bowl, combine fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilies and shallots; stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Add the leftovers, toasted rice powder and fresh herbs, and toss until well combined.
  6. Serve with cucumber or lettuce (make a lettuce wrap). Add Thai sticky rice for a truly traditional meal.