Larb is a dish that is truly synonymous with Lao cuisine. It is packed full of flavour and most Lao people will have fond memories of eating this delicious dish either at home with the family or as part of a banquet at large gatherings or ceremonial events.
There are many versions on how to prepare this dish. Traditionally the meat is grilled, then chopped, then fermented fish sauce (bha dak) and other ingredients are added, finished off with lots of fresh herbs. Larb is usually eaten with sticky rice and is often accompanied with a side of beef jerky or grilled chicken, soup and a side of fresh vegetables such as cucumber, baby eggplants and fresh herbs.
This is our version of the dish. It is easy to prepare, it's delicious and the ingredients are readily available at your local Asian grocer or local supermarket.
- 500g pork mince (you can use chicken mince if you want)
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4-5 cm galangal - peeled and chopped
- 2 cm ginger - peeled and chopped
- 1-2 cloves of garlic
- 1 lemongrass stalk - approx 5 cm and outer layers removed, chopped
- 1-2 red chillies - save some to thinly slice for garnishing
- 3 shallots (approx 50g)
- 2-4 tablespoons fish sauce
- juice of 1 lime or lemon
- 2T raw sugar
- 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves - middle vein removed, thinly sliced
- 1 cup mint leaves - roughly chopped
- 1 cup coriander
- 1/2 cup beansprouts
- 1 T ground glutinous rice (kao kua) *
Combine galangal, ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chillies and shallots in a food processor (if you don’t have a processor you can finely chop these or put in a mortar and pestle and pound until combined). Set aside.
Heat oil in a pan and fry the mince for 5 minutes or until cooked. Add the paste, fish sauce, and sugar and cook for further 5 minutes. There will be some residue sauce from the mince. This is OK. At this stage, turn down the heat, and simmer for a further 5 minutes to reduce the sauce otherwise your larb will be too runny. Taste the sauce and add more sugar or fish sauce if needed.
Take off heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Add lime or lemon juice, kaffir lime leaves, mint, coriander and bean sprouts and finish off with the ground glutinous rice. Give it a light toss. Garnish with sliced chillie. Serve with sticky rice or streamed jasmine rice.
*Ground glutinous rice gives an almost earthy flavour to the dish and traditionally this ingredient is a must if you want to it right. To make ground glutinous rice is very easy, however if you don’t have this available it’s ok, the dish will be just as tasty without it.
To make your own toasted glutinious rice you will need to follow the steps below:
- 1/4 Cup (uncooked) dry glutinous rice
Fry the rice over a stove on low to medium heat until the rice is evenly brown, but not burnt.
Take off the heat and let cool for at least 5-10 minutes.
Grind the rice. You can do this by either using coffee/spice grinder. Or if you don’t have one you can pound the rice in a mortar and pestle.
The end results should resemble coarsely ground black pepper, not a fine powder.