Thai Larb is a light but flavorful combination of savory ground meat paired with fresh herbs. A dish so versatile it can be enjoyed on its own, over rice, or as lettuce wraps. The cool, crisp lettuce leaves are a fantastic complement to the bold Thai flavors in the meat.
Larb is a Northern Thai street dish that has become very popular in Thai restaurants all around the world.
Thai Larb can be enjoyed on its own or over rice, but is perfect as lettuce wraps. The cool, crisp lettuce leaves complement the classic Thai flavors in the meat so well.
The most common types of meat used for Larb are pork, chicken or beef. The ground meat is seasoned with classic Thai flavors such as lime juice and fish sauce, and chili powder for a bit of spice. Fresh basil and mint leaves give this salad such a refreshing twist.
Toasted Glutinous Rice Powder
Toasted glutinous rice powder is traditionally used in Larb to give the dish a unique nutty flavor, and to give the meat some extra crunch. It also helps to thicken the sauce so it’s not too “runny”.
Even though I highly recommend using toasted glutinous rice powder for Larb, you may substitute it with plain white rice or ground roasted peanuts. You may also wish to omit this ingredient completely.
Glutinous rice is very different from the white rice we’re used to eating every day. Glutinous rice is very opaque compared to regular white rice and has an extremely sticky texture when cooked.
You may recognize it from other dishes such as Thai Mango with Sticky Rice. Despite the name, glutinous rice does not contain any gluten so it is considered to be gluten-free.
The toasted glutinous rice powder can be prepared ahead of time and stored for up to about 2 weeks.
Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons of dry uncooked glutinous rice in a wok over very low heat. Use your wok spatula to stir it frequently until it becomes a deep golden brown color.
The estimated time for this slow roast is about 15 minutes, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the rice turn color quickly. It does take a while but I promise that the results are well worth the effort and the wait.
Remove the toasted glutinous rice from the wok and set it aside to cool down.
How to Make Thai Larb
There are several different types of meat that can be used for Larb. The most common are pork, chicken, and beef, but turkey, duck and even certain types of fish can also be used. We’ll be using pork in this recipe.
Before you start cooking, combine 1 tablespoon of lime juice, 1 1/2 tablespoons of fish sauce and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl.
Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in a wok over medium-high heat and add 2 small shallots (sliced thin). When the shallots have turned slightly brown, add 1 pound of ground pork. Stir-fry the ground pork so that it cooks evenly.
When the ground pork is fully cooked, pour the sauce mixture into the wok. Stir well so that all of the ground pork is evenly seasoned with the sauce.
As soon as most of the water has evaporated, turn off the heat.
Stir well to combine all the ingredients, then transfer the ground pork to a large bowl.
Allow the pork to cool, then stir in 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion, a handful of fresh basil leaves and fresh mint leaves.
Serve with your favorite fresh lettuce leaves, or with steamed white rice.
This recipe is a part of an Asian Salad Feast party!
Check out the other delicious Asian Salad recipes by my friends:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons glutinous rice (or ground roasted peanuts)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 shallots (small) sliced thin
- 1 lb ground pork
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or palm sugar)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 1 bunch fresh mint leaves
- 1 head romaine lettuce (wash and separate leaves)
Toasted Glutinous Rice Powder
- Put dry glutinous rice in a wok over very low heat. Use your wok spatula to stir it frequently until it becomes a deep golden brown color (about 15 minutes)
- Allow to cool, then grind the toasted rice in a food processor or blender to the consistency of course ground black pepper.
- Combine lime juice, fish sauce and water in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat cooking oil in a wok over medium-high heat. Add shallots to wok.
- When shallots have turned slightly brown, add ground pork. Stir-fry the pork so it cooks evenly and completely.
- Add the sauce mixture to the pork, then stir well. When most of the water has evaporated, turn off the heat.
- Add brown sugar or palm sugar, chili powder and toasted glutinous rice powder (or ground roasted peanuts) to the pork.
- Stir well to combine all the ingredients, then transfer the pork to a large bowl.
- Allow the pork to cool, then stir in sliced red onion, basil leaves and mint leaves.
- Transfer the pork to a serving bowl, then serve with lettuce leaves.