Laab--ground beef seasoned with chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and mint--is a traditional Thai meat salad eaten warm or at room temperature. We've added thin noodles to turn it into a pasta salad, but you can always eat the meat mixture by itself; just cut down on the fish sauce, or the beef may be too salty.
1/2 pound angel hair or other thin pasta
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce (nam pla or nuoc mam)*
4 scallions including green tops, chopped
1 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup lime juice (from about 2 limes), plus 1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving
How to Make It
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly. Toss the pasta with 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil.
In a large frying pan, toast the almonds over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or toast the nuts in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the nuts from the pan and chop them.
In a large frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of cooking oil over moderately high heat. Add half the jalapeño, the ginger, beef, and salt. Cook the meat, stirring frequently, until brown and cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the remaining tablespoon sesame oil, the fish sauce, scallions, mint, and lime juice.
Put the pasta on plates and top with the beef salad. Sprinkle with the remaining minced jalapeño and the chopped almonds and serve with the lime wedges.
Wine Recommendation: This dish would be a real challenge for most wines. A rich, fairly sweet and malty dark beer, however, will make a splendid chaser.
Notes: Asian fish sauce available at Asian markets and most supermarkets
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This recipe was very fast and very tasty. I did adjust it for my family by omitting the jalapeno pepper, used peanuts instead of almonds, used less lime juice and subbed Yosida sauce as the fish sauce is too strong for my family. Will definitely make this again
Made this with only 1 pound of beef, no pasta and no lime juice. It was delicious, except too salty, but I'm not sure if that's my own fault for not modifying it enough. I'll definitely try again with less salt because the other flavors were terrific.
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