Thursday, June 16, 2016

Larb Lovin'

Summertime has arrived.  And with it comes the desire to look good in a bathing suit.  Me?  I am starting to realize that I love food and I'm never going to look like a supermodel with my 5'1" frame.  I'm always going to have a pot belly.  But I do like to eat healthy.  Sure I won't pass up a piece of fried chicken or some biscuits and gravy, but I do try to choose healthier options, seeing as how 40 is quickly approaching.  And I love me a good Asian-style lettuce wrap.  Minced meats, onion, spices and sauces that heat things up.  The fresh crisp of the cold lettuce wrapped around this mountain of melt-in-your-mouth meat.  Sign me up!  And it's healthy.  It really is.  Maybe a little sodium ridden, but damn it... it's good for you.  Salt is a preservative.  When you eat a lot it preserves your insides.  Right?  How can that be bad? (Don't answer that.  I have Google too.)

We recently went to Las Vegas and ate at a Thai Restaurant that I'm sure you've seen on many food shows.  It's called Lotus of Siam.  It's Northern Thai cuisine.  And let me say, it was the best Thai food I have ever eaten, smelled, looked at, photographed, etc.  It was so good.  If you're ever in Vegas go.  But make a reservation.  So me, being the craving-driven person that I am, felt a strong desire to eat something similar once we got back home.  I have made Larb before (Pinterest "Authentic Larb" or Google it).  It entails toasting rice and grinding it into a powder.  This creates a crunchy texture in your meat mixture that I loved, but it was labor intensive.  And I felt that the lettuce was enough crunch for me.  

I've never met an Asian food I didn't like, so I usually have a lot of the staple cooking supplies on hand.  And I'll be honest with you.  After following a recipe one time, you begin to figure out what you like and what you want to add to make it your own.  So I'm going to give you the first recipe I ever tried for Larb in a link, but then I'm just going to tell you what I do when I make this.

This is the recipe I used when I first made this dish. So try this recipe and then you will know what you need to add to make it how you like it.  I personally use this as a base.  But then I tend to be a flavor floozy, so I also add in garlic (a lot), ginger (only about a tablespoon), lemongrass (if I have it, again, a tablespoon), soy sauce (a few squirts), sesame oil (a few more squirts), Thai red curry paste (a spoonful), Thai chilies or jalapeños (enough to make it super spicy)...and I think that's it.  

I often look like a mad scientist when I make this because I'm jumping from the fridge to the spice cabinet to the stove and I'm squirting things here and there and I'm tasting the whole time.  It's a very unplanned process that never fails. I've done it with ground turkey, chicken and pork.  They all work great. Sometimes I forget to add lime or sugar.  So it's kind of fun because each time it tastes different, but it's always delicious.  Serve on some crispy, cold lettuce (I like iceberg or butter), top with some freshly chopped Thai basil, cilantro and some green onion, and then add a little Sriracha or some chili garlic sauce.  If you're a spice slut, like I am, you'll be very happy with this dish. Makes really good leftovers too!  


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