Katie Chin's larb in Everyday Thai Cooking is not a strictly authentic version. Instead of serving a meat-heavy plate with lettuce on the side, she tosses the (pre-ground) cooked pork with greens and a few extra vegetables. The authenticity police may cry foul. But just because the dish isn't totally authentic (and, let's be clear, the key items in a good larb—roasted rice powder, chiles, fish sauce, lime, and meat—are all there), doesn't make it an unsuccessful dish in any way. In fact, I ate the whole bowl over the course of the day, and enjoyed every single bite of it.
Why I picked this recipe: Larb is one of my favorite dishes to order in Thai restaurants, so I had to try making it at home.
What worked: Between the crunch of the roasted rice powder, the sweetness of the ground pork, and the tang of the fish sauce and lime juice sauce, Chin's larb was a perfect example of harmony and balance in Thai cooking.
What didn't: I'm not sure that I preferred the larb tossed with baby lettuces to the more traditional lettuce wraps. That said, the raw peppers and cucumber added welcome fresh and crisp contrast to the warm ground pork.
Suggested tweaks: You could use any ground meat in place of the pork here. If you want to take it up a notch, grind your own!
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. Follow her @KateHWiliams.