A modern Thai crudités platter.
Larb is a spicy salad which is a National dish of Lao. It crossed the border at the North Eastern part of Thailand and became hugely popular among local folks. Traditionally it is made of ground pork or chicken, dressed in fish sauce, chilli flakes and lime juice, eaten with mint leaves and sticky rice. It can be unbearably spicy. When workers from the North East of Thailand (Isan) came to work in Bangkok, they introduced this dish to urban people who prefer a less intense chilli flavour. Larb is a popular casual side dish for lunch throughout Thailand nowadays.
I made a slight adaptation using tinned tuna instead of meat but kept the taste authentic. Also instead of using ground raw rice that give the salad a crunch, I used under-cooked quinoa / buckwheat mix which delivers a lovely bite. The combination works so well I barely make Larb using mine pork or chicken anymore.
Both the traditional recipe and this tuna quinoa adaptation are given below. You can vary the choice of proteins in your Larb as well as personalise the taste to your liking. Key to a Thai salad in general is a balance of lime and fish sauce. It is perfectly balanced when it is neither sour or salty. The sourness of lime varies from one place to another. So use the recipe below as a guideline.
Serve 4 as a side dish
Serve 2 as a light meal
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: none for tinned tuna. 5 minutes for mince protein
2 * 145g tinned tuna drained well
1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
2 tbsp spring onions sliced into 1 cm length
1/2 mint leaves
1 small red onion or 3 Thai red shallots finely sliced
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbsp quinoa/ buckwheat cooked in boiling water for 5 mints then drain.( replace this with 2 tbsp of roasted raw rice ground to bits not powder)
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 tbsp lime juice
Mix everything together just before serving.
For 450g or 2 cups of minced pork or chicken
Massage the meat with 4 tbsp of lime juice. Mix well then squeeze any liquid from the meat mixture into a saucepan then bring liquid to boil on a medium heat. Add the meat and stir fry until cook through; then transfer to a mixing bowl.
Add the shallots. Reserve some for garnish. Mix well.
Add lime juice, fish sauce, chilli flakes, ground rice. Mix well.
Stir in mint, coriander leaves and spring onions. Gently mix so leaves aren't bruised.
Serve in lettuce cup sprinkled with shallots and a fried red chilli.