Larb. It’s such a weird little word. Every time I hear it my first association is “lard”, which is ironic since Larb’s actually such a light dish with fresh, clean flavors. It really is the perfect summer food.
When I came across a recipe for Thai Larb Chicken some time ago, I knew I had to try it. I used beef instead of chicken because ground beef totally kicks ground chicken’s ass, and because we’d had lettuce cups two nights in a row, I served the Larb on a bed of red cabbage salad instead.
Recipe for my bastardized Larb salad:
(*Note: I use rough measurements because holy crap, I can’t be bothered to measure when I cook. Also, rather than adhering strictly to recipes, I believe that you should cook to your own taste whenever possible.)
For the salad:
-1/2 a red cabbage, finely shredded
-1/4 red onion, finely sliced
-Coriander, finely chopped
-2 limes, juiced
-A good slosh of fish sauce
-As much minced garlic as you want (I put in 2 cloves…most recipes call for one)
-Chili, finely minced (Most recipes call for Thai bird’s eye chili, but I’m kind of a wuss, so I used a jalapeno instead, and left the seeds in. It really depends on how spicy you like your salad to be.)
-1/4 red onion, finely chopped
-A slosh of white wine vinegar
-1 to 2 tsp brown sugar
-Mix everything up.
-Sneak bites while you make the Larb and mutter, “Holy crap, I’m a genius.”
For the beef larb:
-500g minced beef
-1/2 red onion (or 1/4 red onion and 2 shallots, if you can be bothered to deal with shallots)
-Garlic, finely minced (I put 2 cloves in because I can never have too much garlic)
-Chili, finely chopped
-Another good glug of fish sauce (I went twice round the pan)
-Soy sauce to taste
-A good glug of white wine vinegar (Count 2 mississippis. Am I confusing you yet? Just use everything to taste, dammit.)
-Mint, if you want. I generally hate mint unless it’s in mojitos, so I skipped it. Thai basil would probably work really well here.
-Sautee the beef over medium heat, taking out your general anger by stabbing it with your spatula and breaking it up into teeny weeny pieces. If you’re not angry in general, then continue to the next step.
-When the meat is browned, add the rest of the ingredients except for the lime and coriander. Mix them in, then do 10 jumping jacks. (Seriously, is there a better timing method than jumping jacks?) Turn off the heat, squeeze the lime juice in, and pour the Larb onto the cabbage salad.
-Sprinkle coriander on it and kiss yourself in appreciation.
Mike gushed a bit between every mouthful, which made me preen a little. Next time I’ll try adding finely sliced lemongrass, crushed peanuts, and more lime. Yet another keeper!