Dinner Tonight: Ground Turkey Laap

[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

Call it laap, larp, larb, or whatever you'd like—no matter the name, this Thai dish of ground meat, lime juice, fish sauce, and fresh herbs is one of my favorite dishes. Why? I love the balance of acidity, heat, and meat. It's the opposite of most heavy meat-based salads.

But if the balance is just a little off, things can go awry. At first glance, this recipe for Ground Turkey Laap from Food & Wine looked like it had everything I needed. There was lime juice, fish sauce, and even some chili heat. The recipe even had the ground toasted rice powder, which is a great touch. So why was I kind of disappointed?

I've had great success with making a version of this dish at home, but something didn't quite gel here. Perhaps it's the ground turkey, which is not quite as bold and flavorful as the ground pork that I'm used to. Also, it could have been the cooking method. This isn't exactly bad, and I completely cleaned my plate, but if this is your first trip around the block with this incredible Thai dish, perhaps there are better places to start. Does anyone have a great recipe?

Dinner Tonight: Ground Turkey Laap

About This Recipe

Active time:30 minutes
Total time:30 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon long-grain rice
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 large stalks lemongrass, discard tough outer leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Leaves of romaine leaves
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges


  1. 1

    Pour rice into a small skillet and turn the heat to high. Toast the rice, stirring often, until rice is golden brown, about three minutes. Transfer rice to a mortar and pestle and let cool for a few minutes. Then grind rice to a powder.

  2. 2

    Pour oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat. When shimmering, add turkey. Cook, stirring often to break up the meat, until it is no longer pink, about four minutes.

  3. 3

    Add the stock to the skillet. Cook over high heat until it starts to bubble. Then turn off the heat, add the fish sauce, lime juice, and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and set aside for five minutes.

  4. 4

    Stir in lemongrass, scallions, shallot, cilantro, mint, crushed red pepper, and ground toasted rice powder.

  5. 5

    Serve on romaine leaves with additional lime wedges.


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