Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Laotian Lusciousness

Tonight I decided to make one of my all time favourite Asian dishes - Larb (sometimes spelt Laap, Larb or Larp) a deliciously fresh and spicy salad that originates from Laos. This dish is also very popular in Northern Thailand and you will often see it on the menus of Thai restaurants here in Australia. It is comprised of minced meat, plenty of fresh herbs and flavoured with lime juice and fish sauce (Nam Pla) The addition of toasted rice powder takes this salad to a whole other level, both in terms of texture and taste. The rice is crunchy and nutty- a lovely contrast to the freshness of the lime juice, fresh herbs and succulent meat. The toasted rice powder is very easy to make - don't be tempted to leave it out. It really does make the dish.

You can use any kind of mince for Larb - it is delicious with pork, chicken, beef or turkey (my favourite and what I chose tonight) I have also eaten Larb done with minced fish. But of course, it is completely up to your own taste. The same goes for the chilli. I like it hot, but put in as much or as little as you like. Traditionally it is served with quite a lot of chilli and I think the dish works best with a decent kick to it. This dish is super fast to make - it took me 20mins tonight, so it is an ideal midweek dinner. Serve it with plain steamed rice.
To make toasted rice powder: Take 1/3 cup uncooked white rice and toast in a dry, hot pan until it is lightly brown. Crush in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to form a powder.
Laotian Larb

You will need: 500g mince (I used turkey), 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 large finely sliced red onion, 1 cup sliced spring onion, 1 bunch chopped fresh coriander, 1 tablespoon roughly chopped mint, 1-6 small finely chopped red chillies, 3 teaspoons grated ginger, 2 cloves crushed garlic, Juice of 2 limes, 1 tablespoon fish sauce (Nam Pla), pepper, 1 portion of toasted rice powder (see instructions above), Lime wedges and sliced cucumber to serve.

Method: Heat the oil in a pan and add the garlic, ginger, spring onion and 1 teaspoon of the chilli (you will use the rest raw later) cook gently for about a minute. Add the mince and cook until the mince starts to brown. Season with pepper and remove from the heat.

In a bowl, combine the cooked mince, red onion, coriander, mint, chillies, lime juice, fish sauce. Finally, stir through the toasted rice powder. Serve with extra lime, cucumber and steamed rice.



  1. Hi there!

    This is a really great blog; I love the detailed categories on the right! I know this is more of a recipe/how-to blog but I notice you've also done some restaurant reviews. Have you seen Time Out magazine's 'Sydney Food Awards' yet? (online version

    I was wondering what you think of their rankings? Would you agree with them?

    Look forward to seeing your post! Cheers!

  2. Hi Mary - thanks so much for the lovely comment, glad you are enjoying the blog.
    I just checked out the Sydney Food Awards - was really glad to see Claude's and Bennelong on the list. Have never eaten at Marque,which made #1 but I must, as all I hear are great things about it. In the patisserie section, I can't believe that they omitted Black Star,a tiny, tiny bakery/cafe which is in Australia St Newtown.(right next to the incredible Oscillate Wildly) For my money it has the best quality baked goods I've eaten in a long time.Everything they sell excites me. Their macaroons are a transcendental experience! They did however rate Black Star as #1 Best Cheap Eat, which I found a little odd? In the yum cha section, they included my 2 favourites in #1 & #2 spots. Definitely agree with them there. In Best fixed price menu, they included one of my faves, Atellier in Glebe, which is one of our best kept dining secrets I think. I love the place. As well as the fixed menu, they do a divine degustation that is really worth experiencing. That's my two bob's worth :)