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Thai Larb

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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.

Thai Larb in lettuce

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 with wooden spoon

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.

toasted glutinous rice in wok

Remove the toasted glutinous rice from the wok and set it aside to cool down.

When the toasted rice is cool, grind it using a food processor or mortar and pestle. I use my Magic Bullet Blender for this task – it works perfectly.

ground toasted rice in glass bowl

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.

sliced shallots in wok

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.

fish sauce being poured into ground pork for Thai Larb

Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar or palm sugar, 1 teaspoon of chili powder, and the toasted glutinous rice powder (or about 1 tablespoon of ground roasted peanut) to the cooked ground pork.

Pork Thai Larb ingredients in wok

Stir well to combine all the ingredients, then transfer the ground pork to a large bowl.

stir-fried Thai Larb in wok

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.

pork thai larb in lettuce wrap white background

This recipe is a part of an Asian Salad Feast party!

Check out the other delicious Asian Salad recipes by my friends:

Tofu Salad with Iceberg Lettuce and Sweet Corn by JinJoo at Kimchimari

 Gado Gado Salad by Linda at Simply Healthyish

Paleo Asian Coleslaw by Jean at What Great Grandma Ate

Vietnamese Chicken and Rice Vermicelli Salad by Sharon at Nut Free Wok

Salad with Spiced Grated Coconut Topping (Urap Sayur) by Marvellina at What To Cook Today

Authentic Thai Fish Salad by Bobbi at Healthy World Cuisine

Thai Seafood Salad (Yum Talay) by Amy at A Taste of Joy and Love

Crunchy Thai Eggplant Salad by Ann at Grits & Chopsticks

Springtime Sushi Bowl by Sasha at The Sasha Diaries

Burmese Ginger Salad (Gin Thoke) by Tina at Love Is In My Tummy

Shabu Shabu Cold Noodle Salad by Shihoko at Chopstick Chronicles

Japanese Potato Salad by Anita at V for Veggy

Broccolini Sesame Dressing by Anita at Daily Cooking Quest

Thai Larb

Char Ferrara
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.
4.34 from 3 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients
 
 

  • 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)

Instructions
 

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.

Larb

  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 429kcalCarbohydrates: 14gProtein: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 81mgSodium: 617mgFiber: 4gSugar: 5g
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Recipe Rating




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kirsten

Saturday 6th of October 2018

Can you use regular white rice instead of glutinous rice?

Char

Saturday 6th of October 2018

Hi Kirsten! Yes, you can use plain white rice if you don't have glutinous rice. The difference in the taste and the texture is very subtle so it's a good substitute. Much better than omitting it completely. Cheers! :)