Thai Turkey Mushroom Larb Salad

A few servings of Thai Turkey Mushroom Larb Salad served on lettuce cups. A fork, half a lime and a sprig to Thai basil is in the background
Photo: Anne Danahy, MS, RDN

Thai Turkey Mushroom Larb Salad is a quick and easy dinner or appetizer that’s low in carbs and packed with lean protein and fresh citrus-herb flavors.

First, let me say — I know I’m not the only one who would never think to order a salad when I go out for Thai food. Don’t you want to make sure you have maximum room available in your belly for all of those main dishes? I mean, why ruin your appetite with soup or salad when you can make those easily enough at home. Am I right?

So it really never crossed my mind to try something called Larb Gai, also know as Thai Larb salad. Except that someone ordered it and offered to share. I wanted to say no thanks, and explain that I’m reserving my appetite for the multitude of noodle dishes that would be coming out soon, but Larb salad isn’t the kind of “salad” I was picturing. It’s way more of a meal. And even a healthy meal at that.

With the most amazing, fresh, citrusy, slightly spicy and aromatic flavors I’ve ever tasted.

And it’s full of lean protein and extremely low in carbs.

Larb is actually now one of my favorite salad — appetizer — main dishes to order at a Thai restaurant, and I recently discovered that it’s incredibly easy to make at home, too. It’s one of those under-30-minute meals that you can whip up anytime.

Traditional Larb salad is often made with ground chicken or pork, so feel free to substitute if you like. Did you catch that I added mushrooms to my version? I often do that when cooking with lean ground meat, because when you mince up mushrooms, they add that extra umami flavor and lots of moisture to the meat. Plus, you get some extra minerals and vitamin D. And of course, it’s a great way to eat a bit less meat and more plants.

If you have an Asian market nearby, grab some lemongrass, Thai basil and Thai chiles. They’re SO good in this dish. If you don’t have those items, no worries. You can skip the lemongrass (I used ginger and coriander, which has a similar flavor), and swap a Serrano chile for the Thai chile, and regular basil for the Thai basil.

Speaking of Thai basil, did you know you can find it at Home Depot in the spring? I always have it growing in my herb garden — I love it even more than regular basil. If you find some at an Asian market, buy a bunch and make a pesto out of it by blending it up with some garlic cloves and olive oil. Freeze it in an ice cube tray, and whenever you get a craving for Thai food, you’ll have it handy.

Thai Turkey Mushroom Larb Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

    • 13 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 limes)
    • 1 teaspoon lime zest
    • 1-2 tablespoons fish sauce to taste
    • 1 tablespoon Tamari (or soy sauce)
    • 2 tablespoons honey
    • 12 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 pound ground turkey breast organic if available
    • 4 ounces white or baby bella mushrooms stems removed, minced
    • 2 medium shallots minced
    • 1 small Thai chile, or 1 serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced or more to taste
    • 2 large cloves garlic minced
    • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
    • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
    • 2 tablespoons each chopped cilantro, Thai (or regular) basil, mint
    • 2-3 scallions chopped
    • 12 cup diced cucumber
    • 8 lettuce or cabbage leaves

Instructions

  1. Mix together the lime juice, zest, fish sauce, tamari, honey, and Sriracha in a small bowl or measuring cup and set it aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat, and add the ground turkey, mushrooms and shallots. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the turkey is no longer pink.
  3. Add the Thai or Serrano pepper, garlic, ginger, and coriander powder and sauté for another minute or two, until any liquid has evaporated.
  4. Add the reserved lime juice mixture to the pot, and continue to cook the turkey mixture until the liquid has evaporated.
  5. Remove the turkey from the heat, and stir in the cilantro, basil, mint, and scallions. Taste and adjust any seasonings.
  6. Add the cucumbers, and serve hot or warm by spooning about 2-3 tablespoons of the turkey into each lettuce leaf.
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Anne Danahy
Anne Danahy, MS, RDN, is a wellness dietitian and nutrition communications consultant who specializes in women's health and healthy aging. She blogs at Craving Something Healthy. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.