Or larb, or larp, or laab. Bless the confusion of translating from a foreign alphabet to the western. Etymology aside, this is one of my favourite meals in the world. This version came close to the delicious flavour when I’ve had it cooked for me, and has the advantage of taking about 20 minutes, with very little prep.
The mix of herbs is delicious, and makes up a huge part of the dish. I have made this with strips of steak. Traditionally it would be minced beef (or pork, chicken, white fish or any other deceased animal) but I like the steak strips as a little westernisation of the meal.
If you have an extra 10 minutes, dry fry a small handful of rice before you start, grind it up in a pestle and mortar, and add this to the pan too for extra authenticity. It’s called Khao Kua and is a big thing in Southeast Asian cuisine.
Ingredients are per person
- Frying Steak
- Spring onions
- Bird eye or other small powerful chilli
- Mint- A large bundle torn into big chunky pieces, insofar as leaves can be chunky
- Thai/holy basil- A big handful again, roughly chopped. You can get it in Waitrose or Asian food shops. It’s sweeter than normal basil.
- Coriander- a handful, roughly chopped
- Lime- juice and grated zest of half
- Nam Pla (fish sauce) 1 tsp
- Chilli sauce- 1tsp and use sweet chilli if you like
- 4 or 5 large whole lettuce leaves, to serve.
Chop the spring onion and chilli finely and cut the beef into thin strips. Chop the herbs as well to save panic later.
Heat some sesame or groundnut oil in a wok or pan over a medium high heat. When the pan is hot, throw in the steak, chilli and spring onion. The chilli may create a vapour somewhat akin to mustard gas, so leave a window open, and stir fry for 4 or 5 minutes.
Mix the lime juice, zest, Nam Pla, and chilli sauce in a little bowl and set to one side.
Put the beef in a bowl, and stir in the herbs and dressing.
Serve with the lettuce leaves. Fill these with the laap, and wrap it up like a crisp, Laotian fajita. Healthy and delicious.