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Chiang Mai Lettuce Cups - {Larb}

When a cook prepares a dish from another cuisine, he invariably adds his own personal touch, and I've done so with this recipe. It's based on the "larb" of northern Thailand, in which the beef is eaten raw or blanched in water. I prefer to stir-fry it with seasonings to give it a Chinese accent.

Courses: Main Course
Serves: 4 people

Recipe Ingredients

2 tablespoons 30mlUncooked rice
2 tablespoons 30mlVegetable oil
1 teaspoon 5mlCrushed red pepper
2 tablespoons 30mlMinced shallots
1 lb 454g / 16ozLean ground beef
3   Green onions, including tops - thinly sliced
2 tablespoons 30mlChopped cilantro (Chinese parsley)
2 tablespoons 30mlChopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup 59mlFresh lime juice
2 tablespoons 30mlFish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons 7.5mlSugar
  Chilled romaine or butter lettuce leaves
  Mint sprigs or lime wedges - for garnish

Recipe Instructions

Place a small frying pan over medium heat until hot. Add the rice; cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the rice is toasty brown, about 4 minutes. Let stand until cool. Place the rice in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

Place a wok or wide frying pan over high heat until hot. Add the oil, swirling to coat the sides. Add the red pepper and shallots and cook, stirring, until the shallots soften, about 30 seconds. Add the beef and cook until it is browned and crumbly, about 3 minutes. Drain the excess liquid. Add the green onions, cilantro, mint, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar; toss well. Add the ground rice and stir until the liquid is absorbed, about 30 seconds.

To serve, mound the meat mixture on a platter and surround it with lettuce leaves. Garnish with mint sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature. To eat, place a spoonful of meat in a lettuce leaf, wrap it up, and eat it out of hand.

This recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.

Everybody's Wokking by Martin Yan, (Harlow & Ratner, 1991)


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