Thai larb recipe (larb moo ลาบหมู)
Larb (ลาบ) is a Thai salad, but it’s not a vegetable salad, instead it’s a meat salad. The minced pork is wonderfully seasoned with fish sauce, chili flakes, lime juice, toasted sticky rice to give it some crunchy texture, and a wonderful assortment of fresh herbs to bring it all together.
If you’ve eaten larb (ลาบ), I’m sure you love it, but if you’ve never tried it, you’re in for a real treat!
One of the most essential ingredients in any Thai larb recipe is something known as khao kua (ข้าวคั่ว), or toasted sticky rice.
It’s a really important part of Thai larb as it gives the pork a crunchy bite and a roasted fragrance.
The good news is, you should be able to purchase Thai sticky rice at most Asian supermarkets, and then it’s pretty easy to toast the rice and make it yourself.
About 5 tablespoons of uncooked Thai sticky rice (but for the actual dish I used about 1 heaping tablespoon after we made it into powder - see directions)
- 300 grams (1 pound) minced pork (minced chicken or minced beef will also work well)
- ½ - 1 tablespoon of chili flakes (prik bon)
- ⅛ tablespoon of sugar (just a pinch)
- ½ tablespoon of fish sauce (here's the fish sauce I use)
- 1 - 2 limes (I used the juice from about 1.5 limes)
- 3 - 4 small shallots (Thai shallots are only about the size of grapes, so if you have bigger shallots just use however much you want)
- A few leaves of Cilantro
- 3 - 5 spring onions (green onions)
- About 20 leaves or so of fresh mint
Toasted sticky rice (khao kua)
- First step is to make the toasted rice (khao kua ข้าวคั่ว).
- Heat a frying pan on low heat, toss in the uncooked Thai sticky rice (no oil). Stir continuously, kind of like you’re roasting peanuts or coffee. Toast the rice until it turns from white to golden yellow, almost to the point where it looks like brown wheat. It will also be very fragrant and smell almost like popcorn. It took me about 15 minutes or so.
- Once the rice is finished toasting, and has cooled off a bit, put it into your stone mortar and pestle. Pound the rice until it turns into a coarse powder (a blender or food processor will also work fine). Put your toasted sticky rice powder in a bowl aside.
- Add 1 lb. of minced pork to a small sized saucepan with a handle. Fry the pork, breaking it into small minced pieces, until it’s fully cooked all the way through. For best flavor, leave all the oils that come out (but if you want to be healthier, you can also drain the pork oil, and add in a splash of water instead). Take the pork off the heat.
- Leaving the pork in the same pot, add 1 heaping tablespoon of the toasted rice powder into the pork. Also toss in ½ - 1 tablespoon of chili flakes.
- Add a pinch of sugar, ½ tablespoon of fish sauce (I use Red Boat), and squeeze in the juice from 1 - 2 limes (I used about 1 ½ full limes, but I like it quite tart and bright).
- Give the pork and the seasoning a quick stir.
- Peel and slice the shallots, finely mince about 5 green onions and a few cilantro leaves (if you have them), and just pluck about 20 or so mint leaves off the stem. Throw everything into the saucepan with the pork.
- Give the larb moo a good mix, making sure all the spices and dressing coats the pork.
- Taste test. See if it needs more fish sauce for saltiness, lime juice, or chili flakes. Get it the way you want it.
Dish it out onto a plate and garnish with more mint leaves, Thai sweet basil, and cilantro.
Coach Note: I served mine in a bowl on a bed of pea shoots with sliced cucumbers and radishes. You could also serve this with butter leaf lettuce and serve in lettuce cups.