Photo: Oxmoor HouseĀ 
Hands-on Time
25 Mins
Total Time
30 Mins
Yield
Serves 4 (serving size: 3 1/4 cups)

Larb has its origins in laos, though variations of the dish--basically a minced meat salad--have been popularized from northeast thailand, known as the isan region, down through bangkok. This version makes use of what should be commonly available in your food market. Feel free to ramp up the chiles if you like a less restrained salad. The Isan people would smile upon you.

How to Make It

Step 1

Using the side of a chef's knife, mash the sugar and the garlic to a fine paste. Set aside.

Step 2

TOAST AND CRUSH RICE

Step 3

Heat a heavy-bottomed skillet to medium-high. Let heat for a minute before adding the dry rice to the pan.

Step 4

Toast the rice in the pan, stirring periodically. As you stir the rice, you'll find the hot spots in your pan, and smell varying degrees of toastiness. A slightly uneven toast will make for a more complex final dish. A slight char on a few grains isn't a bad thing.

Step 5

Transfer the toasted rice to the bowl of a small food processor.

Step 6

Pulse until the rice grains are the consistency of coarse cornmeal. Alternatively, you can hand-crush the rice with a mortar and pestle.

Step 7

CREATE A TEXTURALLY PLEASING MEATY BASE

Step 8

Wipe the pan you cooked the rice in with a paper towel, and bring it back to the heat. Medium-high.

Step 9

Spray the pan evenly with cooking spray.

Step 10

Add the ground pork. Cook until nearly crisp.

Step 11

Leave the fat in the pan. Add the minced mushrooms.

Step 12

Cook the mushrooms until they have browned and the majority of the moisture has been reduced. Add the turkey.

Step 13

Stir the meat and mushroom mixture in between surface brownings: essentially, let the bottom layer crisp up a bit (about 4 minutes), then stir like mad.

Step 14

Repeat the process twice more, or until the meat mixture is the perfect blend of crisp and moist. Tasting the mixture along the way will help with determining doneness.

Step 15

Turn off the heat.

Step 16

ADD FLAVOR. LET IT SEEP IN

Step 17

Transfer the meat mixture to a mixing bowl.

Step 18

Add the garlic paste, the lime juice, the fish sauce, the shallots, and the minced chiles. Combine and let rest at room temperature.

Step 19

Toss in half of the ground toasted rice. Reserve the rest for garnishing.

Step 20

FINISH WITH HERBS, FRESH GREENS, AND CRUNCHY RICE

Step 21

Combine the napa cabbage, the green onions, the green beans, and the cucumbers in a mixing bowl. Toss evenly.

Step 22

Grab a good-looking platter.

Step 23

Lay the cabbage mixture on the base of the platter.

Step 24

Now, getting back to the meat mixture, check for temperature. Just beyond room temperature is perfect for this dish. If it is so, toss in the mint leaves, the thai basil, and the cilantro.

Step 25

Pour the meat mixture over the cabbage "salad."

Step 26

Garnish with more toasted rice, a sprinkling of crushed chiles, and the Key limes.

Cooking Light Mad Delicious

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