When we think of salad, we think of lettuce and vegetables. But in Thai cooking, a salad can apparently also consist mostly of… ground pork! This dish is called “Laab” and it is very tasty. The ground pork is cooked, but served at room temperature with a dressing of lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, toasted rice powder, shallots, and a lot of fresh herbs: mint, cilantro, and green onions. The toasted rice powder adds both texture and a nutty flavor. Steamed sticky rice is served on the side. I’ve made it following Hot Thai Kitchen’s recipe.
- 250 grams (.55 lb) ground pork (I used ground pork neck aka butt)
- 1 1/2 Tbsp white glutinous rice
- 3 Tbsp finely sliced shallot
- 1/4 cup mint, roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp green onion, chopped
- 2-3 leaves culantro (sawtooth coriander), roughly chopped (optional)
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- chili flakes to taste
For the toasted rice powder, heat up a dry frying pan and add the rice.
Toast over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the rice is golden brown.
Allow the toasted rice to cool, then transfer to a spice grinder (or coffee grinder)…
…and grind into a powder.
To cook the pork, place 2 tablespoons water in a pan or pot, and bring to a boil.
Add the ground pork, and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the meat with a wooden spatula…
…until the raw color has disappeared and it is dry. (If the meat released a lot of water, you can also drain it away to prevent overcooking the meat.)
Add the finely sliced shallot when the meat is still warm, then stir to allow the residual heat of the meat to soften the shallot somewhat.
Mix the fish sauce and lime juice, and add this, then stir to mix.
Add most of the toasted rice powder, reserving some for garnish.
Add chili flakes to taste. I used 1/2 teaspoon.
Add the fresh herbs.
Stir to mix.
Serve with steamed sticky rice (i.e. glutinous rice).
An appropriate flashback for today is Thai green curry with sous vide beef and eggplant.