Larb is one of the iconic dishes of Laos and Isaan region of North Eastern Thailand. It is a warm salad of ground meat, with ground pork as the more common protein used, however chicken, beef, duck and fish make great substitutes.
Little Thailand in Zaventem
3 weeks ago, I was introduced to a little Thai takeaway by a colleague. He chanced upon the little takeaway joint when he was driving along the narrow street somewhere in Zaventem during lunch break. The tiny shoplot is not particularly an obvious sight unless you actually explore that street and pop your head in the shop to check. The “Takeaway” sign is rather misleading as the tiny shoplot could miraculously accommodate 12 people at the most. A business lunch dish is priced at Eur 9. Two types of dishes are prepared daily, spicy and non spicy. À la carte order is more expensive depending on the choice of protein – chicken, beef, pork, tofu, prawn or fish.
In just 3 weeks, I have sampled their Panang Curry, Pad Grapao (holy basil stir-fry), Pad Thai, Pad See Ew (soy sauce stir-fry), Green Curry and Larb Gai (spicy chicken salad). I was completely Thai-away!
Oh by the way, the Larb Gai was not one of the dishes for business lunch, so I had to pay as per à la carte price. The portion was huge and came with steamed jasmine rice.
Fresh, Fast and Simple
Methinks paying Eur 13.50 for the Larb Gai was daylight robbery because making Larb is not rocket science. It’s really simple to make.
I have made Larb several times but have not found the time to blog about it. Recently I made Larb again but with a twist. It’s a vegetarian Larb using minced Quorn. Quorn is gluten-free mycoprotein. I pan-fried the minced Quorn for 8-10 minutes with small amount of oil.
The next ingredient is unique and a must-have in making Larb, ie toasted rice powder. Originally glutinous rice is used, however, jasmine rice is a great substitute. I used jasmine rice in this recipe.
The rice is dry-roasted on medium high heat until a deep golden brown colour is achieved. It is advisable to make as much as you need at a time. I used about 2Tbsp jasmine rice for 200 g minced Quorn.
Once the rice turned a ravishing brown colour, I transferred it to a stone mortar. The rice was ground to the consistency I wanted, not too powdery or flour-like but still fine with bits to bite on. The smell of ‘popcorn’ emitting from the freshly pounded toasted rice was awesome.
Before assembling the Larb, I prepped the fresh herbs of mint, coriander and spring onion. Then I thinly sliced a shallot and a yellow chilli. For colour, I halved 8 cherry tomatoes.
Next I combined palm sugar, nam pla (fish sauce) and juice of 1 lime to configure the trinity of Thai marinade. Chilli flakes were sprinkled, all to taste. (Note, fish sauce can be substituted with light soy sauce to make this dish vegan)
Finally, the assembling of the dish! My favourite part. After all, it’s an all-in-one-pot dish. Easy peasy!
I was glad I made good use of the 200 g minced Quorn. It was lying in my fridge for at least 2 weeks. I had wanted to make a vegetarian bolognese sauce for my boys after work in the evening but I never got round to making it. Well, my procrastination paid off. Hubs and the boys loved the refreshingly light vegetarian Larb. To be honest, Quorn is a rather dry ingredient, unlike chicken, pork, duck, prawn or beef when the technique of “Ruan” (cooking meat with water without a drop of oil) is used. I’m glad I added cherry tomatoes and the juice of 1 lime really perked up the dish and tantalised our palates.
I’m linking this post to #CookBlogShare May 24-30 hosted by Hayley at Snap Happy Bakes
Have a great weekend!