A country I love is Laos. It a wonderful place in South East Asia, a landlocked haven that until fairly recent years was undeveloped, supporting deep green forests with dappled light, hidden treasures and bamboo gullies, the magnificent Mekong River supporting river dolphins and glorious waterfalls, inland islands dotted with tiny huts, jewelled insects clinging to incredible flowers. The peoples’ culture is sweet, communal and incredibly generous. Spend time in Luang Prabang and you will know what I mean.
Anyhow, larb is served in most restaurants and is regarded as a national dish. It is fresh, spicy, aromatic and delicious served in crisp lettuce leaves. Its usually made with minced meat, generally pork. I don’t eat pork so I made a vegetarian version. We call it “cooked salad” and my children usually have at least two servings at dinner.
Admission: I’m a working mother, so there are two versions to this salad:
1. The “quick my children are walking up the stairs and need to be fed in 10 minutes” version; or
2. The fancy “I can serve this to anyone as a sharing plate on the table” version.
Cook’s note: I make this toddler friendly and then add fresh coriander and chilli seperately afterwards for the adults.
1 packet of Linda McCartney vegetarian mince (frozen)
2 cups of cooked brown rice (more if you like)
4 tbsp rice bran oil
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen sliced green beans
1/2 cup sliced fresh snow peas
1 tbsp Massells chicken stock powder (vegan friendly)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tsp maple syrup
1 cup mushrooms, roughly chopped
good amount of fresh cracked pepper
3 cm white section fresh lemongrass finely diced or 1 tsp minced lemongrass
1/2 cup water
fresh lime wedges, coriander and hot chilli to serve.
1. In a non-stick wok, heat 3 tbsp oil. Add cooked rice on high heat for 2 minutes. Add bag of vegetarian mince. Cook on high for another 2 minutes.
2. Turn down heat to medium and add remaining ingredients.
3. Cook for 5 or so minutes until everything is defrosted and hot throughout.
4. Serve immediately to toddlers with a lime wedge. I put a horizontal slice in the flesh to reduce spatter when squeezing.
For the adults, add lime wedge, coriander and chilli.
To make fancy, use fresh ingredients, not frozen. Cook the rice and vegetarian mince combination on high heat for an additional 2 minutes so it becomes a bit crispy before adding remaining ingredients. Adjust to taste and season if required. Serve in baby cos lettuce cups with tiny lime wedges and a sprig of coriander.
Note: Leftovers can be used as a filling for wraps for lunches the next day.
Hope you have a lovely week.