Sunday, September 12, 2021

Laotian Beef Larb Recipe - Delicious Chopped Meat Salad

I was working in my garden, preparing it for the winter, and part of that was pruning plants that had gotten too big. My lemongrass plant is gigantic, as no one really uses it, since I didn't really know how to access the part usually used for Asian cooking, and have even purchased some for cooking use, since I was that clueless. I also and am not a big tea drinker, the only thing I knew to do with the rest of the plant. (My dog, though, regularly chews off parts of the lemongrass stalk.) But the lemongrass plant was absolutely gigantic and definitely needed to be thinned out or it would take over my entire garden. Lemongrass, it seems, grows by making more and more shoots next to the original ones, and I pulled out a bunch of that new growth. Googling helped me realize what I needed to do to reveal the part of the plant used in Asian cooking- peel off the outside layers like an onion to reveal the softer inner stalks.

So I had a bunch of these now and had no idea what to do with them.

Asian cooking, obviously. Thai and Laotian recipes. I used some of them to make my delicious spicy curry laksa noodle soup. Other recipes I saw were Thai hot and sour soup, but there are only so many soup dishes you could eat at once. I also made green curry paste for use in various recipes.

But I wanted main course recipes with lemongrass. And then I remembered larb. Larb is a meat salad from laos and northern Thailand, and it often is made with lemongrass. I was pretty sure I even had a larb recipe already on my blog, and I looked and found that, in fact, I did. But I didn't want to go with the recipe I already had. I wanted to make a new and improved one. I looked at my old recipe and about 4 or 5 other recipes, each with their own twists and ingredient combinations, and decided how to make my own. To keep down costs and use what I had at home, I replaced the shallots, fish sauce, and lime juice with onion and garlic, gluten free soy sauce, and lemon juice. I also used mint that I had growing in my garden.

My beef larb came out wonderful, light and refreshing in a way that beef generally is.

I ended up serving mine with a Thai inspired mushroom salad, with soy sauce, lemon juice, lemongrass, sugar, hot pepper flakes, and scallions, and a mango salad with the same ingredient mixture plus ginger, and using a combination of unripe green and ripe mangos. We ate all of those together over rice and the combination was heavenly.

It was the perfect thing to do with my lemongrass. Absolutely delicious.

This recipe is gluten free and allergy friendly and pretty low cost as well. Highly recommended.

Laotian Beef Larb Recipe - Chopped Meat Salad

1 tablespoon short grain rice
2 tablespoons oil, divided
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
1 lb/500 grams ground beef
1 tablespoon sugar or sweetener of choice
1 tablespoon gluten free soy sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon chopped lemongrass
2 pinches hot flakes, or to taste
Approximately 20 mint leaves
1 small bunch cilantro
3 large green onions

1. Toast your rice in a pan or wok on a medium/low heat, mixing constantly, until lightly browned and smelling somewhat like popcorn. You then roughly grind it in a blender, spice grinder, or mortar and pestel. This is called khao khoua and it is a very important component of the dish.

2. Mince your garlic and onion very finely and saute in oil until starting to get lightly browned. Set aside.

3. Cook your ground beef in the same pan/oil as before, adding more oil if necessary. Cook mixing and breaking up frequently until you have fully cooked ground beef crumbles.

4. Add soy sauce, sweetener, lemon juice, and lemon grass to the pan and cook for a few minutes more. 

5. Chop up your herbs.

6. Add your khao khoua, toasted rice, and the rest of the ingredients, including the onion/garlic mixture, and cook for a few more minutes. 

7. Let cool and serve room temperature, either on a bed of lettuce or with sticky rice.


Have you ever had larb before? What type was it? Does this look like a recipe you'd try? What is your favorite recipe to make with lemongrass?

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