Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Larb, Lahp or Laap ('Good Luck Salad')

According to Nancy McDermott in her cookbook Real Thai: The Best of Thailand's Regional Cooking, "Lahp means "good fortune" and that auspicious name makes this hot and spicy meat dish a popular choice for Thai weddings and other celebrations."

In my book, you don't need a celebration to make this dish. It's super easy and full of fresh ingredients and great quintessential Thai flavors (chilies, basil, mint, shallots, fish sauce & lime). I came up with this version by adapting the recipes from McDermott's cookbook and . Traditionally, Larb is actually a Lao dish that's been adapted by other Southeast Asian cultures. A Lao version, which I've posted here does not include the roasted peanuts or any basil. 

2 lbs. ground pork, chicken or beef (I like using pork)
3 red and/or green jalapenos, sliced (leave the seeds in if you like extra spicy - or add 1/8 tsp. cayenne)
3 tbs. fish sauce
Juice of 1 limes (2 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. roasted rice powder
1 tsp. sugar
2 green onions, sliced
1 cup chopped fresh shallots or red onion
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped (don't add too much, or the mint will overpower the dish)
1/2 cup fresh Thai basil, chopped 
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish (optional)
1 small English or hothouse cucumber, halved lengthwise & sliced, for garnish
Red Oakleaf or butter lettuce leaves (optional, as a wrap or to plate the salad on top of)

1. Heat 1 tbsp. of vegetable oil in a skillet over high heat. Add ground pork and cook until browned and fully cooked. Turn off heat and stir in remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (fish sauce, lime juice, etc.)

3. Place Laarb in a serving dish (looks great served on lettuce leaves). Garnish with extra roasted rice powder, basil leaves & lime wedges on the side. Great with steamed jasmine rice.

Chopped basil, green onions, shallots, red chilies, cilantro and mint.

Roasted rice powder. Available at stores like 99 Ranch Market in the spice section. 

Fish sauce, roasted rice powder, sugar, lime juice.

Saute the ground pork in 1 tbsp. vegetable oi until done. Turn off heat. 

Add chopped shallots.

Add chilies, basil, mint, cilantro & green onion.

Add fish sauce & remaining ingredients. 

Garnish with chopped roasted peanuts & basil leaves. Serve with lime wedges on the side. You can serve this salad on top of lettuce leaves, or even use the lettuce leaves as a wrap for the ground meat. 

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