First the admin stuff: I’ve decided to show only 3 posts per page. I’m not sure if this matters or not to anyone other than me, but it makes the traffic on my server easier to handle. The traffic… I thought when we left Southern California we also left traffic behind! Not so. When I made this blog public I was expecting maybe a couple dozen foodies to drop in from time to time to talk food. But now, each time someone links to me on StumbleUpon, it’s as if all of those people are kicking my dear old server in the shins. This blog, my other blogs, and my entire website go dead. So until I can switch out the hardware and optimize caching within the next week or so, I am blocking requests from StumbleUpon. Sorry folks – but you are killing me with your love and I think we need a break… just a short one. It’s not that I don’t enjoy visitors, just that I hadn’t prepared appropriately for the magnitude. So let me be a proper host and get my house in order (i.e. put the old server out to pasture).
On to the topic of the day: larb or larp or laab. It is a wonderful Thai seasoned meat salad of sorts. We were introduced to the dish by our friend, Pailin. She’s Thai and she’s a chef and she’s amazing. We met her hitch-hiking in the Eastern Sierra. Jeremy and I had hiked out of the John Muir Trail a day early because we fell a day behind and were going to miss our scheduled shuttle pick up at Whitney Portal. Instead, we exited via Kearsarge Pass to Onion Valley where we encountered Pailin and Wayne as they finished a day hike. I had never hitched before, but I’m not a very intimidating person (except that I stunk something awful after 6 days of backpacking without a shower), nor did they appear to be serial killers. Gee, I hope my mom isn’t reading this… I asked if we could catch a ride into town. We became fast friends and they stayed with us in Pasadena a couple of times when they came to LA to replenish their pantry with Asian groceries. Wayne and Pailin treated us to dinner at this authentic Thai hole-in-the-wall joint in downtown LA. That’s where we had laab and that’s where the addiction began.
My version of the dish uses ground turkey because it’s healthier, and I probably Chinesified it over the years adding ginger and garlic. When I decided to post this recipe, I realized that perhaps I should check its authenticity against some of my Thai recipe books. Hmmm, no garlic or ginger… Anyway, you can use pork or beef or chicken or tofu. There appears to be enormous flexibility on this dish.
ground turkey, spicy chili sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, shallots, lemongrass, mint and cilantro
How to describe this if you’ve never had it? Salty, tangy, minty, spicy, refreshing, and satisfying. I trust if I’m screwing this up that HolyBasil will offer up some advice. It seems that there are many ways to prepare the dish, so I’m just going to dive in head first. I sautéed the ground turkey in a little vegetable oil until it was thoroughly cooked. Next I added the lemongrass and shallots and stir fried until the shallots were soft.
cook the meat through
add shallots and lemongrass
Some recipes say to cook the meat in the fish sauce and lime juice, others say to add it off the heat. I always add my lime juice after cooking because I don’t want to lose any of those amazing vitamins. Toss in the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
stir in remaining ingredients
I serve the laab with ground peanuts and extra mint/cilantro on top alongside steamed rice and fresh cabbage and basil leaves for wrapping. It is so aromatic and lovely to eat any time of year.
it’s fabulous with ground peanuts
Laab (Thai seasoned meat salad)
1 lb. ground turkey (or pork, chicken, beef, duck)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 stalk lemon grass, minced
4 shallots, minced (or you can use red onion)
2 limes, juice of
4 tbsps fish sauce (the brand with the three crabs on it is good)
2 kaffir lime leaves, chopped (I didn’t have that on hand)
1-2 tbsps chili garlic paste
1/4 cup mint, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts, ground (optional)
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook the ground turkey until browned. Add lemon grass and shallots and sauté until shallots just soften. Remove from heat and transfer to bowl. Add the remaining ingredients except for the peanuts. Stir together well and garnish with peanuts and extra mint and cilantro. Serve with rice or sticky rice, fresh basil leaves and fresh cabbage leaves.