Ground Turkey Laap

There's a great article in this month's (Feb 2011) Food & Wine magazine about the cuisine of Laos, a small country nestled between Vietnam and Thailand. Each of the recipes featured struck my fancy but I selected this simple ground turkey dish to start with.

It's light and healthy with fresh, bright flavors bursting through. I loved it as an appetizer in crunchy Belgian endive cups and tomorrow I will enjoy the leftovers atop some sticky brown rice, perhaps with a dash of soy sauce and some of my favorite home made Sriracha sauce.

It was so quick and easy to make - something you would never believe from tasting it. One of the most interesting things about the dish to me was the technique of toasting a small amount of rice and then grinding it in a spice grinder/coffee grinder. You add the rice powder to the dish at the end and it helps to gently bind the flavors together.

Ground Turkey Laap
(adapted from Food & Wine)

Serves 4 as an entree, more as an appetizer

1 Tablespoon long-grain white rice
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound ground all-natural organic turkey breast (white meat)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons chicken stock
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce (I used Thai)
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Juice of 1 lime
2 large stalks lemongrass, tender pale inner core only, minced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
thinly sliced green onions (optional)
Belgian endive leaves (optional)
extra lime wedges for serving

In a large skillet, toast the dry rice over high heat turning in the skillet until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the rice and place in the spice grinder and let it cool. Once cooled, grind the rice to a powder, then set aside. You could probably also use a blender.

Return the skillet to the stove, lower the heat to medium high and add the oil. Next add the turkey and cook, breaking it up with a spatula while it cooks. Cook until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir, continuing to cook until bubbling, less than a minute.

Remove from the heat and stir in the fish sauce. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the lime juice. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the lemongrass, shallot, cilantro, mint, crushed red pepper, rice powder, and green onion if desired. Stir and serve in endive cups or with rice.

Ground Turkey Laap


  1. Have to try this soon! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  2. Looks great, Veronica. I love all the different flavours here!

  3. What an interesting recipe. The ground, toasted rice is a neat finishing touch.

  4. Wonderful as always! Love the photos and it is awesome recipe!!!

  5. This sounds interesting!!!! Love how fresh this must taste!

  6. Veronica - this looks fantastic. So many of my favourite flavours in this dish - I would like some right now for my lunch :-)
    Turkey, not so readily available here, unless you buy a whole bird usually. Occasionally we can get the breast, but you usually need to take out a mortgage to afford it. Still I imagine chicken would make a perfectly good substitute in this.
    Thanks for sharing it - and more beautiful photos too.
    Sue xo

  7. I am looking around for weekend and next week meal ideas, and this looks fabulous! I love endive and filling them with this sounds great...my son and his girlfriend are leaving for Korea to teach English, so I will enjoy the visit one day and all the foods ideas like this...

  8. Want your turkey be extra juicy and tasty. Before cooking apply a beauty paste made up of:
    1/2 to 3/4 cup butter or margarine
    3 Tbsp flour
    2 Tbsp dry mustard
    Contrary to normal advice cook it breast-side down.