Laab Salad - North-Eastern Style
This savory laab recipe is the specialty salad from Thailand’s north (Nue) and north-eastern (I-saan). The dish is actually originated from Laos, the neighboring country that has significantly influenced many north-eastern dishes.
If you have a friend whose home town was I-saan, then you might already have been introduced to their famous dishes. I-saan food has been popular across the world due to its distinctive flavors.
However, Thai people from the north-east and southern regions are well known for the strength of flavors and spicy characteristics present in all dishes!
Even though the south of Thailand, where I was born, has different styles of cooking and ingredients to I-saan food. The spicy flavor is never missed in our daily meals.
There are several recipes of the salad both from the north and north-eastern and what makes the salad dish uniquely different is ingredients. For example, the north-eastern uses fresh herbs as ingredients while the north adds both fresh herbs and lots of spices into the dish.
North’s salad ingredients are called Prik Laab or Nam Prik Laab. Its ingredients consists of dried chilies, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, cloves, star anise, mace, nutmeg, bay leaves, cinnamon, and few local herbs. These herbs and spices are usually dry fried before pounding or blending all together.
The Prik Laab is used to toss with your choice of minced meat, chopped shallot, coriander, spring onion and mints. There are mainly 2 styles of salad, the first which uses uncooked minced meat called Larb Dip , and the second which uses cooked minced meat called Larb Kua .
North-eastern’s salad ingredients basically uses only chopped fresh herbs tossed with minced meat with ground dry fry rice (Kao Kua), fresh mint leaves, spring onion, shallots, stink weed or spiny coriander (pak chee farang), ground dry fry galangal, and seasoning with lime juice, fish sauce, and chili flake or chili powder.
The varieties of minced meat used in the salad often are chicken, pork, fish and duck. Their uncooked meat salad dish is called Larb Koi while the cooked one called Larb.
This spicy salad is often served with sticky rice and accompanied with lots of fresh veggies which are cabbage, Thai basil leaves, long beans, mint leaves and cucumber.
However, the unpleasant ingredient used in uncooked meat salad often is animal blood as a dressing. I know, it sounds awful, and I really do not want to try!
Still have a good appetite? Then let’s get started, the following recipe you are going to see is easy, simple, clean and healthy!
Making this recipe can be time-consuming. For your alternative choice, you may buy readymade Larb Salad Powder made from Thailand from Asian food stores.
In this recipe, I chose to serve the laab fish salad in Piper Sarmentosum leaves, called in Thai Bai Cha Plu, the locally grown plant which is widely used as an ingredient for coconut-based curry dishes. The leave is also served with a Thai appetizer called Mieng. However, you can substitute it with lettuce leaves.
This tangy and scrumptious Laab Salad makes a perfect match with Thai BBQ Chicken or Fried Rice with Prawns!
Minced Grilled Fish Salad
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Spicy Level: mild
Grilled any white marine fish fillet deboned and minced 300 g
Ground dry fry rice 2 tbsp
Fresh mint leaves finely chopped a handful
Spring onion finely chopped a handful
Shallots thinly sliced ¼ cup
Stink weed finely chopped a handful (if available)
Coriander leaves finely chopped a handful
Ground dry fry galangal 1 tsp
Lime juice 2 ½ tbsp
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Chili Powder ½ tsp or more
Let's get started!
How to make:
- Toss mince grilled fish with all fresh herbs and seasoning.
- Served with sticky rice and fresh veggies like Thai basil, cucumber or sliced cabbage.
- Pat the grilled fish dry before tossing.
- You can make ground dry fry (kao kua) by dry fry the uncooked rice (without using oil) on a frying pan over low to medium heat. Shake the pan a few time to protect burning. When thoroughly turns slightly brown, remove into a bowl and cover with a lit for a few minutes. Doing this will help the rice becoming crispy and easy to break and ground. Ground the rice with stone mortar and pestle or food processor if you have a large amount of rice. Ground dry fry rice can be kept in a room temperature for a very long time in a sealed container.
- You have two choices of choosing ground dry fry galangal. The first is you can buy readymade ground galangal and dry fry it without using oil at home. The second is buying a fresh mature galangal, finely chop it and dry fry with the same method as dry frying rice above. Use stone mortar and pestle or food processor to ground. Ground dry fry galangal can be kept in a room temperature for a very long time in a sealed container.
- If you want to use minced pork or chicken instead, simply cook the meat with a little of water. Drain and toss all ingredient as above together.
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