The recipe below is for a Thai dish called larb nua. This is the first Thai dish I ever had, though it has now been a couple of decades since my brother first took me to the Thai Room on Western for my birthday—back when there were only a few Thai restaurants in Chicago. He ordered, as he was already familiar with the cuisine, and larb was our starter. I loved it, and still do. I have, since then, enjoyed it often, both at the growing number of Thai restaurants over here and during two trips to Thailand.
As is common in Asia, though this is called a salad, lettuce plays only a supporting role. This dish can also be made with ground chicken, in which case it is larb kai. Enjoy.
(Spicy Thai Beef Salad/Appetizer)
1/4 cup uncooked white rice
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup lime juice*
2 Tbs. Thai fish sauce
1/2 tsp. galangal powder
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
6–8 scallions, thinly sliced
2 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. chopped fresh mint leaves
1 tsp. crushed red pepper*
Lettuce (about 1 head iceberg or 3 heads butter lettuce)
Mint sprigs for garnish, if desired
In a small pan, cook the rice over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently, until the rice is a nice golden brown, about 4 to 8 minutes. Grind the rice fine in a blender or coffee grinder, and set aside. (Alternatively, if you have a good Asian grocery store, you can just buy toasted ground rice. But this is so easy to make, I don’t bother, since I need so little for this recipe.) Continue reading