If you’ve been to northern Thailand or Laos, you’ve probably had larb moo or meat salad. It’s unofficially the national dish of Laos and incredibly popular in the Isan region of Thailand.
Meat salad might not sound very appealing, but it’s incredible. Think juicy minced pork, fish sauce, lime juice, roasted rice, and fresh herbs. Paired with sticky rice balls, it’s absolutely addictive.
The essential ingredient in larb is the toasted sticky rice. It gives everything a nice crunch and roasted toasty fragrance. If you don’t have sticky rice, you can easily toast up some uncooked Jasmine rice instead.
Toasting rice is pretty easy: just pop uncooked rice into a dry pan and toast over medium-low heat, while shaking occasionally. After a while, the rice takes on some color and starts to smell amazing – kind of like popcorn. Take your time while you’re toasting, be careful not to burn. Toasting the rice is probably the longest part of this recipe. After that you’re just 10 minutes away from porky, herby heaven.
Larb is classic street food, fast, easy, fun, and most importantly, delicious. It’s usually served with vegetables, lettuce to wrap, and sticky rice – so good! We had ours with both lettuce cups and sticky rice. Sticky rice recipe coming soon!
The next time you’re looking for a quick and easy dinner that’s a bit different, I hope you try this larb. It hits all the right notes: sweet, spicy, salty, and sour.
- 1 tablespoon uncooked sticky rice or jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tablespoon chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 lime, juiced, plus extra lime wedges to serve
- 1 – 2 shallots
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 20 leaves fresh mint
- lettuce or Thai sticky rice, to serve
In a small pan, toast the rice over medium-low heat, shaking the pan often, about 2-3 minutes. Once golden brown, let cool slightly and move to a mortar and pestle. Crush it into a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the pork, and brown, breaking into pieces.
Remove from the heat, and stir in the toasted rice powder and chili flakes. Add the sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. Stir in the shallots, green onions, cilantro, and mint. Mix well and adjust to taste.