Larb with Sticky Rice
Mess Level: Low
Yield: 2-4 Servings
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 15 min
For the Pork:
- 1 lb Ground Pork
- 8-16 Lettuce Cups
- ¼ Cup Thinly Sliced Shallor or Red Onion
For the Dressing:
- ¼ Cup Fish Sauce
- 2-3 Tablespoons Lime Juice
- ½ Jalapeno or chili flakes
- 3 Scallions or Equal Amount Cilantro
- 1 Bunch Mint
- 1 Bunch Basil or Thai Basil (Optional)
- 1 Large Garlic Clove
- 1 Knob Ginger
For the Rice:
- ½ Cup Short Grain White Rice (Long grain is ok in a pinch)
- 1 Cup Water
- 2 Tablespoons Vinegar
- 1 Heaping Tablespoon Sugar
- Add the sugar, vinegar, and water to a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Rinse the rice well and then add to the pot. Stir, reduce the heat to the lowest setting and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook for 20 minutes or until the rice is tender, then cool.
- Add the fish sauce and lime juice to a mixing bowl. Finely mince the jalapeno and thinly slice the white parts of the scallions. Grate the garlic and ginger on a Microplane and thinly slice the herbs, leaving out half the mint for garnish. Mix into the dressing, taste and adjust as needed.
- In a saute pan, brown the pork until cooked through. Do not add any seasoning. Shut off the heat and stir in the red onion, then add half the dressing to the meat. Stir and taste, adding as much dressing as desired.
- Thinly slice the green parts of the scallion. Fill lettuce cups with sticky rice and the meat mixture. Garnish with mint and scallion.
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- Gluten Free: Yes! This dish is naturally gluten free.
- Vegan:Use your favorite plant-based ground meat and use soy sauce instead of fish. The flavor will lean more towards Asian cuisine than Thai so tailor your herbs accordingly.
Meal Prep: Follow these steps if you want to prep ahead of time:
- Complete the recipe through step 3 and thinly slice the scallion. Store the meat, rice, and chopped herbs separately. When ready to eat, heat the meat mixture quickly and assemble the lettuce cups.
Doesn’t Larb Usually Have Toasted Rice?
- Yes, Traditionally you would toast dry, short-grain rice and then grind it to use as a garnish. I didn’t have short-grain rice and wasn’t happy with the texture of ground long-grain rice so sticky rice it is!
Do I need to have all these herbs?
- No, the idea is to just get as much fresh, herby flavor as possible. The more herbs such as basil, mint, and cilantro the better, but it’s pretty customizable.
Can I use different meat?
- Certainly! Any kind of ground meat should work just fine.
What’s up with the short-grain rice?
- Short grain rice is starchier and creates much better sticky rice. However, I made this recipe during the 2020 quarantine and all I had was long grain. It will still work but go for the short-grain if you can.
Ramblings of a Line Cook
A bit of sugar, a bit of vinegar, and a 20-minute steam on the stove-top with a mindful eye to make sure the sticky water doesn’t bubble over this time. The starches begin to bind, the sugar joins the force, and the vinegar provides balance. I find myself eating the sticky rice off the end of a wooden spoon where it clings.
Retrieving ⅓ cup of fish sauce is a task to be loathed. The tiny hole in the top of the jar designed to let only a few drops through at a time has no doubt saved many an uncertain cook from ruining their dinner with a gush of the briny, dark liquid. But I can feel the seconds of my life ticking away as I stand there shaking out the tiny droplets.
A fresh jalapeno will stand in when no Thai chilies can be found. In a perfect world, I’d have at least one bunch of Thai basil, plenty of mint, and more cilantro than I could use. But today I have three scallions and a handful of mint leaves. It will do.
Brown the pork, set the bowl of salt far away so that your hands cannot fall into their familiar habit of salting while your mind is otherwise occupied. Find your bruised limes sitting lonely in the hanging basket. Rinse, roll, squeeze. Dip of the spoon for a quick taste check and add a bit more lime. Cup into a crisp leaf of lettuce and eat it in the sunlight through the window. Today still feels grey, but we keep on anyways.