This recipe is my own simplified spin on the classic Thai/Laotian meat salad. I’ve cooked this for years and years, especially so when I ate a lot more meat.
First off, this version certainly isn’t 100% authentic, a real larb would use kaffir lime leaves and rice powder; both of which can be kinda tricky to source and have on hand at all times. Sometime I use lemongrass, sometimes I don’t.
At any rate, I think you’ll find the dish still manages a huge amount of vibrancy without this three items, offering a wallop of zesty and spicy flavor.
You can make the recipe with any type of ground meat substitute you like. You’ll need to tailor the cooking time a little based on how each one cooks up. My suggestion would be either MorningStar Farms Crumblers (vegetarian) or Gardein’s Ultimate Beefless Ground (vegan). In the case of the former I find it soaks up flavor a little better, so is the one we use most often.
The trick to this recipe is slowly layering the flavors, and cooking relatively briskly so nothing wanes under too much cooking. Cook a little bit, add a little more, and so forth. The result is a really bright, clean and refreshing flavor. Don’t skimp on the mint nor the cilantro either, you’ll thank me.
We usually serve our larb with rice and a side salad of iceberg, using the lettuce cups to scoop up the larb much like a Chinese style lettuce wrap. The cool and crunchy lettuce with the spicy and citrusy larb is a real contrasting treat. We also serve with some crushed peanuts and a little uncooked mint, cilantro, onion and bell pepper.
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 small red onion thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- ground meat substitute (see notes)
- 2 limes
- 2 tbsp sambal
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 handful mint leaves
- 1 handful cilantro leaves
- ground peanuts
Mix juice of limes, fish sauce and sambal chilli together. Stir well and set aside.
Add a third of the thinly sliced red onion to oil and cook over medium heat. Heat until onions start to brown and sweeten.
Add choice of meat substitute, add another third of the red onions, half the bell pepper and half the prepared lime-fish sauce-sambal sauce.
Cook over medium heat until meat is largely cooked through.
For the last 3-5 minutes of cooking add remaining sauce, onions and bell pepper. Cook over medium-low heat and serve with rice, salad and crushed peanuts.
Hi I’m Stuart, amateur home cook and professional food writer. You can find my writing at places like The Salt Lake Tribune and Gastronomic SLC, which I founded more than a decade ago. As well as writing extensively about restaurants, I’m endlessly curious about that product on the shelf. Is it any good I wonder? If you’re like me, wonder no more.