jeudi, janvier 29, 2015

Larb (Thai/Laotian Minced Meat Salad)

Larb - a portion

Hub almost never travelled when he was working at Ferrari Spa. in Maranello, but Shanghai is an altogether different story. As the company in China grew under his management, his travels also increased. First it was just to Wuhu (Anhui) where their first plant was located; then he started going to Foshan (Guangdong) when he set up their second plant; then to Wuhan (Hubei) where they have started a joint-venture with the Chinese. Outside China, he flies regularly to Penang having taken over the company's Malaysian operations and a few months ago, he also started to go to Yokohama when he was given the Japan operations. Not to forget occasional trips to Europe to either Stuttgart or Milan for meetings with HQ.

Life is busy and I imagine, stressful. Fortunately, after a learning stint at INSEAD in Singapore last March, he came back not only a better business leader, but also a man more determined to keep healthy knowing that his current lifestyle is not the most ideal. He started working out regularly and eating better, insisting that I prepare salads and make sure that we have fruit at home. For many households that would be normal fare, but I'm not fond of fruit and vegetables so my WW3 pantry had lots of food but nothing too green or leafy.

I'm now really fat because since Hub is often away, I could continue eating whatever rubbish I fancy. But I do make an effort when he is home for dinner. Since he currently has a thing for cabbage (for its calorie-burning qualities), I made him Larb last evening when he flew back from a 3-day trip to Foshan.

Larb is a salad sometimes served in Thai restaurants and I was told that it is popular in the north of the country near Laos. In fact, it is actually more of a Laotian dish, but you will agree that there are more Thai than Laotian restaurants outside the region.

Basically it is minced meat (e.g. pork, beef, chicken, duck) served with fresh herbs and dressed in a fish sauce, lime juice dressing. And eaten wrapped in cabbage leaves. Very often I would find raw French beans on the plate as well, but I dislike this vegetable raw so you wouldn't find it in my version of Larb.

Larb :

The meat filling :

2 tbsp light olive oil or vegetable oil
400g fresh ground pork, beef or chicken
2 tbsp onions chopped
3 cloves garlic chopped
half a stalk of lemongrass bashed
red chilli sliced
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
pepper to taste

The dressing :

2 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp hot water
red chilli sliced
1 kaffir lime leaf shredded
half a stalk of lemongrass bashed
2 tbsp fish sauce
juice of 1 lemon or 2 large limes

The garnishing :

2 shallots or half a small red onion finely sliced
a handful of fresh basil, mint and coriander leaves chopped
cabbage leaves

Method :

Wash your cabbage (you can use iceberg if you prefer your leaves tender and crisp, but the normal cabbage holds the meat and sauce better) and decorate a serving plate with it.

Wash, drain and chop the fresh herbs and set aside in a bowl.

Slice the shallots or red onions, set aside.

Prepare the dressing by dissolving the sugar in hot water and infusing the solution with the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf and chilli. Add fish sauce and lime juice and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (more for the taste than for the temperature).

In a frying pan, add 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I have an almost odourless light olive oil so I used it) and fry the onions, garlic and lemongrass till fragrant. Add the chilli and sugar and let it cook for a little while before adding the minced meat. I used organic black pig (pork) for this dish. 

Stir fry to mix well and when the meat is almost cooked through, stir in the fish sauce and soy sauce. Add pepper to taste. 

When the meat is cooked (beef could be eaten rare but not chicken or pork), turn off the heat. Add the raw shallots/red onions and the chopped fresh herbs. Mix well and then stir in the dressing.

Larb can be eaten warm or chilled. Scoop some of the meat onto a cabbage leaf and enjoy.

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