This recipe comes straight from my friend’s mother in northern Thailand. I love the way she makes this Spicy Pork Laab (also spelled larb)- so good with just-made sticky rice. No matter where I am in the world, eating this dish makes me feel like I’m right back in rural Thailand. Adjust the spice level to your taste- remember, I’m known for my ability to eat fire. I leave the ground sweet rice (see below) as optional because some people don’t want to buy a whole bag of this rice, which is used for sticky rice. Nowadays though, you can buy this in small bags in most Asian grocery stores and if you have it, it is well worth adding to this dish for an extra layer of texture and flavor.
Serves 4 as Main Course (eaten with rice)
1 ½ lbs ground pork 8 garlic cloves finely minced
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, roughly chopped on the diagonal
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mint, roughly chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 1 medium sized lime
5 bird’s eye chili peppers, finely minced (substitute with 1 ½ tablespoons ground red chili pepper)
1/2 large cucumber, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
1 tablespoon lemongrass, finely minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons finely ground sweet rice (sweet rice is what uncooked sticky rice) (optional)
Iceberg or Romaine lettuce for garnish
Heat a wok or skillet on high heat. Add the ground pork and sauté for about 5 to 7 minutes until thoroughly cooked and beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool down for just a few minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, place all the other ingredients together. Add in the ground pork and toss together until well mixed. Serve warm with jasmine or sticky rice.