Laab is a wonderful, light dish from northeastern Thailand. It’s made with either chicken (Laab Gai) or pork (Laab Moo). Now the first thing you have to understand when you prepare this dish is that it is essentially a salad. The only cooked ingredient is the meat. In a good Laab, fish sauce and lime juice play off each other beautifully. Be sure to get the balance right!
It’s delicious, easy to make (takes about 15-20 minutes) and all the ingredients are readily available here in Goa. Here’s the recipe:
10 sprigs sliced coriander
6 tablespoons fish sauce
2 sliced green onion
1/2 tablespoon ground dried chilli pepper
1 lbs ground chicken or pork
1 thinly sliced shallot (a small onion will also do)
6 sprigs mint
2 tablespoon toasted rice
Squeeze the four limes and pour about 1/3 of the juice into the chicken or pork mince. Mix it well with your hands and let it marinate for a few minutes. Heat up a pan on high heat and let it get very hot. Add four tablespoons of water and immediately put in the marinated meat. Stir. Cook the chicken or pork, stirring often, until the liquid dries up and the meat is cooked.
While the meat is cooking, toast some rice (preferably Thai rice but any rice will do, even Basmati). You do this by taking a few tablespoons of raw rice and placing them in a hot pan without any water. Stir frequently until the rice is golden brown. Then grind the toasted rice by hand or in an electric grinder (Don’t grind too much so as to preserve a semi-rough texture).
Put the pork in a large salad or mixing bowl. Then add the fish sauce, the lime juice, the shallots (or onion), the coriander, the green onion, the mint, the ground chilli pepper and most of the toasted rice. You can also add some thinly sliced raw chilis as well. Save a bit of the toasted rice to sprinkle on top for garnish. Mix well. If you like it spicy, add more chilli. Taste the balance of fish sauce and lime. Add more of either if you like. It’s all about getting that tangy balance right! Kab-kun Kap!