Raw fish salad

Raw fish salad

Leanne Kitchen

Versions of laab (the word comes from a northern Thai term meaning ‘to mince/grind meat’) are common throughout northeastern Thailand and Laos. There are many different types. The use of raw flesh – either pork, buffalo, beef or fish is not uncommon. This raw fish salad is our general ode to those rugged, herb and chilli–laced laab, with their bracing jolt of lime juice, although we have steered a little off-course by slicing instead of chopping the fish.


Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon prahok (fermented fish paste)
6 large dried red chillies
50g sticky (glutinous) rice
750g skinless snapper or other firm white-fleshed fish fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
60ml lime juice
4 red asian shallots, very thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stems, very thinly sliced, white part only
handful mint leaves, very thinly sliced, some whole leaves reserved to garnish
handful coriander leaves
handful saw-tooth coriander leaves, (optional)
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
4-5 green bird’s eye chillies, sliced, to serve

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
Sticky rice


  1. Combine the prahok in a small saucepan with 60 ml water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 2 minutes then remove from the heat and cool. Strain well, pressing down on the solids in the sieve with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Set aside. Discard the solids.
  2. Heat a small, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the dried chillies and dry-fry for 6–7 minutes, turning occasionally, or until dark red and crisp. Remove from the heat and cool.
  3. Use your fingers to crumble the chillies coarsely. Set aside.
  4. Reheat the frying pan to medium–high, add the rice and toast, shaking the pan occasionally, for 6–8 minutes or until golden. Transfer to an electric spice grinder and grind to a coarse powder. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle. Set aside with the chillies.
  5. Thinly slice the fish. Combine in a bowl with the salt and lime juice and toss to combine well. Stand for 20 minutes. Add the prahok liquid, chillies, rice powder, shallots, lemongrass, herbs and spring onion and toss to combine well.
  6. Transfer to a serving platter, scatter over some whole mint leaves and the green chillies and serve.
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