• Ground beef salad with lemongrass and chilli, Hmong style (la or larb)

This Thai dish is not dissimilar to the Chinese sang choy bow: minced meat, in this case beef, is cooked with herbs and spices and served in lettuce leaf cups. The flavours, however, are quintessential Thai.






Skill level

Average: 3.9 (14 votes)


  • 200 g uncooked glutinous rice, plus extra, cooked, to serve
  • 1 kg beef or chicken meat
  • oil, to fry
  • salt, fish soy, dark soy and lemon juice (see Note), to taste
  • 3 red chillies, chopped fine including seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches spring onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 bunches mint, chopped
  • 2 bunches Vietnamese mint, chopped
  • 4 makrut lime leaves, cut very fine
  • lettuce leaf cups, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Toast the rice until brown then blend or pound to a fine powder. Set aside.

With a very sharp knife, chop the meat until it is almost a fine paste (finer even than mince). Alternatively, you could mince in a blender several times. Heat a little oil in a wok and add the meat, cook it through evenly breaking up any lumps.

Take the meat off the heat and place in a large bowl. Add salt, fish soy, dark soy and lemon juice to taste. Mix through the chillies, garlic, shallots and herbs.

Finally, add the ground rice and serve in lettuce leaf cups with handfuls of steamed glutinous rice.


• A trick for getting lots of juice from lemons is to hit them hard with the flat side of a knife blade before cutting them open.