I’d like to tell a good story here about how I learned about larb from some Thai chef or a Laotian sous chef, but I did not. Google taught me about larb. Some of you are reading the word larb and judging it by the phonetics – in English larb does not sound all that appetizing. I get it. It is like a lard-bard hyphen gone wrong. BUT this dish will knock your socks off. If you are a fan of heat, citrus and lettuce wraps this is a dish for you.
Larb comes from the Hmong community, for the most part. In the US larb can be found in most Thai restaurants. Typically the dish is concocted of meat – generally chicken – and a lot of south Asian flavors like lemongrass, cilantro and mint. Larb is mostly meat but technically a salad for some reason. That said it is a flavor bomb. I hope you enjoy!
1/2 small white onion, peeled
2 T Fish sauce
1 lime, juiced
½ bunch cilantro leaves
½ inch section of ginger, peeled
1 serrano pepper, or hotter, your choice
2 cloves garlic
2 T Sambal Oelek – Rooster Sauce, found in the Asian food section.
1 t coriander
1.5 pounds ground elk
1 bunch green onions, sliced
½ bunch cilantro, leaves picked
1 serrano, sliced thin
¼ cup mint leaves
1 head baby romaine lettuce, top and bottom cut off to make “lettuce cups”
*classically this dish comes with a toasted rice powder. I am omitting from the recipe but it can be added if you are interested.
Add the onion, fish sauce, lime juice, ½ bunch cilantro, ginger, serrano, garlic, sambal oelek and coriander to a blender and puree until smooth. This will be bright green and smell pungent! That is ok, it will taste good.
Next brown the elk meat, making sure to breakdown the large chunks. When the meat is almost done cooking add the green mix to the pan. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes longer.
Toss the new mixture with the sliced green onions, mint, cilantro and serrano pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Use lettuce cups to eat like a taco. They are grubbin!