Larb, or laap as it's known in Laos, Thailand's answer to san choy bau, minus the lettuce cups. Complementing the spicy, aromatic and flavour-packed meat, larb traditionally comes with a side of cabbage, green beans and cucumber. The fresh vegetables are a much-needed cooling aid for when the chilli becomes too much. If you’re not a big fan of pork, this recipe works equally well with chicken. Don’t buy minced breast though, as you need some fat to keep the chicken moist.
- 1½ tbsp white rice
- 4 spring onions, finely chopped, white and green parts separated
- 4 coriander stems and roots, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 185 ml (¾ cup) chicken stock or water
- 280 g pork mince
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1½ tbsp lime juice
- ½ tsp chilli powder
- ¼ cup coriander leaves
- ¼ cup mint leaves, torn
- white cabbage, sliced
- green beans
- sticky rice or steamed rice (optional)
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 in a dry frying pan over medium high heat for 3–4 minutes until golden. Pound in a mortar and pestle until finely crushed. Set aside.
Add the white part of the spring onion, coriander roots, garlic and white peppercorns to the mortar and pound into a smooth paste. Bring the chicken stock or water to the boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the paste, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the pork and stir well to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3–4 minutes until the pork is just cooked. Remove from the heat and strain (reserve liquid). Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved liquid, lime juice, fish sauce and chilli powder to the pork and toss to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool a little.
Add the green part of the spring onion, herbs and most of the rice powder to the pork and toss gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning adding more lime juice, fish sauce or chilli powder to balance the flavour.
Arrange the vegetables on plates, place the pork to one side and sprinkle over the remaining rice powder and a pinch of chilli powder. Use the reserved cooking liquid to drizzle over rice if using.
Photography by Benito Martin. Food styling by Alice Storey. Prop styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Alice Storey and Georgina Larby.
Finch dinner plate from Citta Design. Flared bowl from Mud Australia. Diamante cylindrical jug from Maxwell and Williams. Mulberry fork and spoon from The Chef and the Cook