In Thai cuisine there are a large variety of salads, and many of them are made from meat. One of the most famous is called laab (also written larb, lap, lab or lob), and it is really simple to make. Plus it tastes fresh from the lime and coriander, and has a kick of spice from a generous amount of chili. This particular recipe is for laab moo or pork laab (“moo” is the Thai word for pork), though there are other versions made with chicken, duck, beef, and even a raw version which is seasoned with fresh blood. Maybe not for everyone, but I find it to be quite delicious and somewhat luxurious.
Anyway, there is no blood in this recipe, just plenty of porky goodness and a generous dose of fresh herbs and chili. We’ve dialed down the spicy factor for you because when made here in Thailand laab can be one of the hottest things I (or you) will ever eat. There are actually laab pastes that can be purchased here, and our favorite comes from Golf’s home town, but it is amazingly hot. If you like the heat it is amazing, and plenty of beer is needed for washing down the laab moo.
This recipe is a serving for 2 people, but understand that it will be 2 small servings. Thais like to eat meals with several dishes of small sizes, so you get to enjoy a full range of flavors and textures during your meal. So, this dish might be paired with a stir fried vegetable dish, a curry, a soup of some king (maybe Tom Yum Goong) and of course rice. You can opt for jasmine rice or if you want make some sticky rice, which is the traditional accompaniment.
- 1 pound pork shoulder, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped spring onion
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped coriander
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons ground roasted rice powder (can be made by heating rice in a saute pan until lightly browned and then turn to powder in a blender)
- ½-1 tablespoon chili powder (depends on your tolerance)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 3-4 long yard bean (side dish vegetable)
- A small head of cabbage, quartered (side dish vegetable)
- Place a pan with ground pork over medium-high heat. Add water and break up the ground pork so it doesn't stick together. Simmer and stir well until the pork is cooked through and then pour the water out. Let the pork cool down a little bit before placing into the mixing bowl.
- Add mint leaves, spring onion, coriander, and shallot to the pork. Mix well.
- Add the rest of the seasonings; lime juice, fish sauce, chili powder, sugar, and stir until everything is well mixed together. Sprinkle with ground roasted rice powder and toss lightly.
- Serve on the plate with vegetables (long yard beans and cabbage).
After You’ve tried the traditional laab, you might want to try the fried version of laab, which is equally delicious and comes in small bites for the perfect appetizer, snack or party food.