Mucho thanks to Gia's sister, who is a brilliant chef, for giving me her recipe. Which is pretty close to this:
Larb (it tastes better than it sounds)
2 lbs ground pork (or beef or chicken)
1 large handful of mint
2 medium sized shallots thinly sliced
1 bottle of Thai fish sauce
A whole mess of limes
2 cups jasmine rice
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 head of romaine lettuce
- Combine the mint leaves, shallots and garlic chili sauce in a large non-metal bowl. Mix well.
- Cook the pork (or beef or chicken) in a large saucepan with about 1/4 cup of water. If you are going to use chicken, then you may want to cook some chicken breasts and mince the meat in a food processor. Store-bought ground chicken is a bit fatty. You want the meat to get cooked without getting real browned. That's why you want to add the water...to keep it moist and juicy. After cooking, drain all liquid/fat and add to the bowl with the mint, shallots and garlic chili sauce. Mix well and cover. The heat from the cooked meat will blanch the mint and shallots, effectively cooking them as well.
- Cook the rice according to the directions on the packaging.
- Mix the fish sauce and the juice from the limes in a separate bowl. This is where your imagination/personal tastes comes in. For the amount you are cooking here, you could use about 4 oz of fish sauce and 4 oz of lime juice. But if you want more tang and less anchovies (that's what is generally in the fish sauce), then use more lime juice. I used about 5 oz lime juice to 3 oz fish sauce when I made it. Because we dig lime. Add the mixture to the bowl with the meat and all the other ingredients besides the rice and lettuce and mix well.
- Serve with the lettuce leafs and the rice. Eat it however you want. I like to make little lettuce rolls. Gia prefers to just mix the rice and the meat in a bowl and dig in with a spoon. But it's up to you. Feel free to use your hands as much as possible. They are the quickest delivery method of food to the mouth, after all.
- An optional garnish is to take a few tablespoons of jasmine rice and toast it up in a dry skillet until they are almost burned. Nice and brown. Then crush them between two paper plates with a rolling pin or something else ingenious that you come up with. Then sprinkle a bit of the crushed toasted rice over the regular cooked rice and/or the larb itself. It gives it a crunchy and interesting texture/flavor.
- What are you waiting for?
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