Larb Kai – Chicken Salad with Teo

When Teo is not busy preparing orders for her catering business, you can find her volunteering at the Wat Phrayortkeo Dhammayanaram Lao Buddhist Temple in Bonnyrigg, Sydney. Every Wednesday, Teo arrives early in the morning to cook lunch for the monks, who eat their second and final meal of the day at 11am. It is during this time, that Teo also prepares the monk’s first meal, usually soup, for the upcoming day at 6am. The Temple’s large, outdoor kitchen, bustling with cooks and helpers, can cater to up to 200 guests.  A streamlined process; among the chatter, volunteers weave between the benches and stove tops, slicing, dicing, plating dishes and washing pans.  At 10.55, the tables are set and the volunteers welcome the Monks as they file into the communal eating space to begin their meal. Once the Monks have eaten, visitors, guests and volunteers start their lunch. 

Originally born in Laos, Teo fled in 1976 and spent eight months living in a refugee camp in Thailand before seeking refuge in Australia in 1978. Arriving in Australia as a qualified maths and French teacher, one of Teo’s early jobs in Sydney was a Bi-Lingual Vocational Support Officer at Chester Hill High School. Teo also initiated a Laos Community Newsletter, something that she would type in the early hours of the morning, whilst her children were asleep. “I like to try and I like to learn. Since I came to Australia I always worked in, and with the community”. 

One of eleven children, Teo began cooking from an early age, inspired by her parents who were both passionate home cooks. A veteran in the hospitality industry, Teo owned and managed two restaurants in Sydney. A natural educator, Teo’s teaching and cooking skills intertwine and materialise through the Laos cooking classes and food tours she often runs in Western Sydney, where she specialises in Vietnamese, Laos and Thai cuisine. 


Teo’s Larb Kai (Chicken Salad)


2 Onions – finely chopped

2 Garlic cloves minced

1 tablespoon of finely chopped lemongrass

200g Chicken giblet/chicken heart or liver

400g Chicken mince

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon finely chopped red chilli

1 tablespoon of finely shredded Galangal

2 tablespoons Fish sauce

1 teaspoon chicken stock

Salt to taste

Sugar to taste

Roast rice powder

Dried chilli powder

Mix of fresh herbs: mint, coriander, shallots, kaffir lime


Fry onion, lemongrass and garlic in oil until golden and crispy, set aside.

Using any leftover oil from the garlic, lemongrass and onion, In two separate pans, fry the chicken mince and chicken giblet/ heart or liver

In a large bowl, combine the chicken mince and giblet.

Once combined, add lemon juice, chilli, galangal, fish sauce, stock, salt, sugar, chilli powder and roast rice powder and mix thoroughly

Add the fresh herbs and toss the salad again.

Garnish with the fried onion and garlic.

This is the twelfth post in a special series dedicated to my collaboration with Settlement Services International in the lead up to their annual New Beginnings: Refugee Arts & Culture Festival during Refugee Week 2017. A big, warm thank you to the SSI staff and volunteers who have assisted in the project collaboration so far.