A National Dish
When we visited Laos 3 years ago I had to try their National dish, Larb Gai. I tried several versions and soon became hooked on this delicious meat salad. Chicken, pork or fish is usually used. Sometimes raw fish is used resulting in a service-style dish, but I was wary of eating raw fish in this country where we were warned of food safety issues.
Some images from Laos
Larb is sometimes spelt Lap, Laap, Larp, Lahb or Laab, so if you find other recipes don’t be confused, it’s all the same thing! It is also eaten in Larb Northern Thailand where food cultures have no borders. Nearly every menu features at least one version of larb!
Easy to prepare!
It is a simple dish and it is the spices that actually make it delicious.
You usually start with raw meat which is simply cooked and seasoned. Most of the seasoning is added after cooking. I find this an excellent dish to use for left-over cooked meat. In my recipe I used left over roast pork. I have made it on previous occasions using fish and chicken. On one occasion I had over cooked a beef fillet and this was a perfect foil for a very extravagant mistake!
The joy of this recipe is that there are no fixed proportions and once you have made it you can literally play around with the preferred flavour profile and what you have in the pantry. You can add corn kernels, chopped cucumber, cooked mushrooms, chopped tomato, red or yellow peppers etc!
A big plus is that it is super healthy, with the bare minimum added fat or oils and carbohydrates.
The fragrantly seasoned meat is presented in crisp lettuce ‘bowls’ and the only carbohydrate is a hint of sugar in the dressing and a sprinkling of toasted rice that adds crunch. If you are fanatical about avoiding carbs, simply omit these.
Ideal for summer
On a warm summer day it is an ideal dish, served slightly chilled as a main course or smaller portions as a starter. If you use small lettuce leaves it makes a stunning snack with drinks.
It benefits by standing for an hour or two for the flavours to develop so it can be prepared well in advance.