If you’re looking for something that’s fast, flavourful, and a change-up from your routine, I highly recommend making a larb. I’ve used ground pork in this version, but larb can be made from any ground meat that you have on hand. It’s also a great intro dish to Thai cooking. There’s no complicated techniques or unusual ingredients to source. I also recommend growing the herbs, if you can. If you don’t have a garden, they will grow in a pot in a sunny window with just a little bit of care.
The recipe calls for sticky rice. There are Thai varieties available at any Asian market, but you can also use Calrose, which has a shorter grain, but works really well. (I, for one, can’t have 6 bags of rice in my cupboard. I just don’t have the room).
A major component to larb is the toasted rice. This is a very simple thing to do, and only takes a couple of minutes with a hot, dry skillet. Just watch the rice to make sure it doesn’t get too toasted or burned. A few zings in the coffee mill or food processor is all it takes to make the toasted rice meal for your recipe.
Like most of my recipes, this is a good one for tweaking to your taste. It’s a common street food and each vendor has their own way of doing it. Tasting and testing is encouraged!
Thai Larb – Isan Style
This is a simple street food that can be made in the time it takes to cook rice!
- 1 lb ground pork, chicken, beef or turkey
- 1/4 cup Thai sticky rice or other sticky rice, toasted
- 4 small shallots, finely chopped
- 5 green onions, finely sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup Thai basil, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp Thai style fish sauce
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp crushed, dried chilis or chili flakes ((remove seeds to reduce heat))
In a large skillet on medium high, toast 1/4 cup of sticky rice until a rich golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool while you cook the meat.
Return skillet to the heat. Add ground meat and cook for about 8 minutes, breaking up large pieces, until done. Remove from heat.
Grind toasted rice into a coarse meal and add to the meat. Combine thoroughly.
Stir in fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, and chili flakes.
Just before serving, add the fresh herbs, onions, and shallots. Toss together. Taste and adjust flavours. It should have a pleasant, slightly sour and salty flavour with a bit of a kick. Add more lime juice to temper the fish sauce, if you find it too strong or add more fish sauce if it needs more salt. You can amp up the heat to your liking with chili flakes. Serve with cucumber slices on lettuce leaves and or in a rice bowl. Garnish with lime slices and herbs.