A Quick and Tasty Dinner
If Larb is the “unofficial” national dish of Laos, why do you find it in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries? Simple, these countries share borders, and as it is all around the world, share their food. You can find Larb (also often called larp or laab) in most curbside restaurants. Larb is also served raw and cold. I would be extra careful if you choose to consume meat this way.
We made a quick stop in Bangkok, Thailand, a couple of years ago and spent a day touring out of the way sights and markets. The people and the markets in Bangkok were fantastic. We went on a crazy tractor ride through the rice fields, were given a demonstration on making rice crackers and got to paddle our own little boat through a water lily farm. It was quite a day.
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Larb – Preparing the Ingredients
Larb is a great, weeknight meal. There is a bit of prep, but get your family to help! Also, in the summer, you are adding minimum heat to your kitchen. Less heat in the summer is always a good thing.
You can add as many fresh veggies to the mix as you have on hand, julienned carrots and celery, along with the cucumber and jicama would add crunch and texture. If you are serving this to kids, be careful with the number of chilies you add. These little chilies pack quite a hot punch. You can add the chilies as a garnish for the adults.
To make the veggie prep easier, you can use a mini-food processor. I have an ancient Oskar that was given to me by a friend years and years ago. There are several different mini-food processors on the market today, this is a one time purchase that will provide a great return.
A rice cooker makes the job of cooking the rice a no-brainer. Just put the rice and liquid in the cooker and push the button. When the rice is done, the cooker turns off. This handy machine is useful for cooking other grains as well like barley, quinoa, and bulgar.
Larb – Keeping it Light and Healthyish(?)
I chose to use ground turkey in my dish. Chicken and duck are not uncommon in Laos or Thailand. But you also frequently find Larb made with lamb, beef, and pork. I did add rice, as my husband wouldn’t consider this a main dish without a starch. If you are doing Keto or carb-free, you can leave the rice out, and the Larb is still delicious. You can also make this as a vegetarian dish by using tofu and mushrooms and soy sauce in place of the fish sauce.
Weeknight Turkey Larb
- Rice Cooker
- Food Processor
- 12 inch skillet
- 1 cup rice white or brown
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 4 – 5 cloves garlic
- 1 large shallot
- 2 – 3 small red Thai chili thinly sliced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 2 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 – 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp brown or demerara sugar
- 3 limes
- 1 cucumber sliced
- 3/4 cup dry roasted peanuts roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup jicama chopped
- 8 iceberg lettuce leaves
Start the Rice
- Follow the instructions from your rice cooker or on the bag of rice itself. However, the usual method is 1:2, one unit of rice to two units of liquid. I generally just use water. White rice usually takes about 20 minutes in the rice cooker. If you are using brown rice, you need to get quite a head start on this as it will take up to 45 minutes.
Prep the Aromatics
- Remove the stems from the bunch of cilantro and place in the food processor, set the leaves aside for garnish later.
- Remove the tough outer layer(s) from the lemongrass then slice thinly and add to the food processor with the cilantro stems
- Peel shallot and garlic and add to the food processor.
- Chop Thai chili and add to the food processor
- Once all the aromatics are in the food processor, pulse the mixture until you get a fine chop.
Brown the Meat
- Hear your skillet, add 1 – 2 tbsp oil to coat then add the turkey, allow to brown on one side, then the other, remove from skillet.
- Add your aromatics to the same skillet and cook until tender. While the aromatics are cooking, assemble your "dressing"
Assemble the Dressing
- Combine the Juice of two limes with 1 – 2 tbsp Fish Sauce and 1/2 tsp Demerara or Brown Sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved
- Add the browned meat back into the skillet along with the aromatics. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes to combine flavors. Remove from heat and add "dressing". Stir thoroughly.
- Lastly, chop your toppings: extra chilies, jicama, cilantro, peanuts, and limes and separate the lettuce leaves
- Using one lettuce leaf, place rice in first, then add the meat mixture. Top with your choice of herbs and veggies, roll up and chow down! ,