Making Thai food at home doesn’t have to be hard. Laab, a simple dish of ground meat, rice and spices, can be on the table in less than 30 minutes. Try the chicken version below, and pair it with one of the three wines. If you’d prefer to drink something you already have on hand, look for a medium- to full-bodied white with similar characteristics, such as citrus to play off the lime in the dish.
Then consider these pairings by sommelier Ryan Arnold, divisional wine director for Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, as told to Michael Austin:
▪ 2011 Domaine des Baumard Clos du Papillon Savennieres, France: Stay away from oaky, vanilla flavors in your white wine, so the vegetables in this dish really pop. This Loire Valley wine, made of 100 percent chenin blanc, shows beeswax, citrus and spice. It has a rich texture but will probably seem light because it is packed with mouthwatering acidity. The wine most surely will enhance the veggies and herbs in this dish.
▪ 2014 Von Winning Deidesheimer Paradiesgarten Riesling Trocken, Pfalz, Germany: This is the one wine you can always bring to a Thai restaurant. It offers an explosion of white peach and lemon zest, carried through by searing acidity. When you cook meat in a skillet you retain fat, which leads to richness. This wine will complement the roundness of the chicken while not interfering with the crunchiness of the lettuce wrap or the more delicate elements of the dish.
▪ Patrick Bottex La Cueille Bugey-Cerdon, France: If you absolutely must have a red with this dish, Bugey-Cerdon is a nonvintage sparkling wine from the Savoie region in eastern France. A juicy blend of 80 percent gamay and 20 percent poulsard, this wine has high acid and low alcohol, which makes it versatile when it comes to pairing. In addition to dried strawberries, there’s a hint of sweetness that will help cool the red pepper spice.
Thai Chicken Wrapped In Lettuce
Toast 1/ 4 cup rice in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown, about 10 minutes; cool. Grind in a spice grinder. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat; add 1 pound ground chicken and 1/2 cup water. Cook, stirring and breaking up pieces, until chicken has turned white, about 7 minutes; drain. In a bowl, combine chicken; 5 green onions, sliced; 2 shallots, sliced; 1/2 cup each, chopped fresh mint and cilantro; 2 tablespoons each fish sauce and ground rice; 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes and juice of 1 lime; toss well. Serve wrapped in Boston lettuce leaves.
Makes four servings. Recipe by Robin Mather