Thai cooking is by far, one of my favorites. I love that it utilizes simple, fresh ingredients to create bold, aromatic flavors. While Thai fare is famous for lots of spice and heat, it's also celebrated for balanced flavors with components of sweet, sour and savory.
Aside from the popularized Pad Thai noodles and Thai curries, there is a slew of amazing dishes like Larb. Admittedly, the first time I ordered this dish, it was simply because I found the name interesting. To my dismay, a few of my dinner companions thought the name rather off-putting. Little did we know, Larb, really pronounced 'Laab,' would become one of the best discoveries we'd ever make.
The highlight of the salad is the minced chicken or pork, served with fresh herbs. The flavors are perfectly balanced with the sweetness from the sugar, a little tartness from the lime juice and heat from the chilies.
If you're looking for more heat and extra kick, replace the dried chilies with fresh Thai Bird Chilies.
Top off the salad with sprigs of fresh mint and a sprinkling of toasted rice for a nutty crunch. The salad is perfect on its own and is also great served with rice for a simple and delicious weeknight meal.
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Place uncooked rice in a dry pan over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes, shaking the pan back and forth to toast the rice evenly. Once the rice is no longer translucent and turns a light golden brown, transfer to a bowl.
In a medium pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add in the shallot and dried chilies and stir for 10 seconds.
Increase heat to medium-high, add the chicken and stir-fry until it is no longer pink. Add the fish sauce and sugar and stir to combine. Squeeze 2 of the quartered limes into the pan and turn off the heat. Stir in cilantro and onion.
To serve, spoon the cooked meat into 2 cabbage leaves, dividing equally, and sprinkle the toasted rice on top. Garnish each serving with mint, a wedge of lime and sliced cucumber, if desired.
While other three-year-old girls played with their Barbie dolls, Joy Liao made herself an imaginary kitchen. She'd pretend to be the butcher at the market, taking a plastic knife to her stuffed animals. (She wasn’t a troubled child, promise!) Having an insatiable appetite for all things delicious, Joy grew up in the kitchen learning about cooking from her mother. After college, she pursued an editorial/media career, and more recently, rediscovered her passion for food in the kitchens of Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco.
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