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!
Reprinted with permission from Everyday Thai Cooking: Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes by Katie Chin. Copyright 2013. Published by Tuttle Publishing. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.
- Yield:Serves 4
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:30 minutes
- 1 tablespoon long-grain rice
- 1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 small shallot, ﬁnely sliced
- 1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
- 1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
- 1/2 pound (250 g) ground pork
- 3 tablespoons chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons ﬁsh sauce (nam pla)
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
- 4 cups (350 g) mixed baby greens
- 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup (52 g) peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
- 12–14 fresh mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons ﬁnely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
- 2 tablespoons ﬁnely chopped fresh Thai or Italian basil
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 4 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
- Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish
- Mint leaves for garnish
- Lime wedges
Heat the rice in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring and tossing for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Transfer to a small plate and allow to cool. Use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and grind the rice into a coarse powder. Set aside
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and chili; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pork and stir-fry, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 5–6 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, ﬁsh sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rice powder, baby greens, red pepper, cucumber, mint leaves, fresh coriander leaves, basil, and red onions. Add the warm pork mixture and toss with the greens. Sprinkle crushed peanuts on top. Garnish with fresh coriander and mint leaves. Serve immediately with lime wedges.