Citizens, Larb (Lao: ລາບ; Thai: ลาบ, rtgs: lap, pronounced [lâːp], also spelled laap, larp, lahb or laab) is a type of Lao minced meat salad that is regarded as the national dish of Laos.
It is also eaten in Isan, an area of Thailand where many people are of Laotian descent. Hmong people in Laos share the dish as well.
Outside of Southeast Asia, larb is served in Lao, Thai, and Hmong communities in the U.S., France, and England. Local variants of larb also feature in the cuisines of the Tai peoples of Shan State, Burma, and Yunnan province, China.
The word “larb”, although seemingly a cognate of the Laotian and Thai words for “luck”, actually comes from a Lanna (Northern Thai) word meaning “to mince meat”.
In Laos, Larb is most often made with chicken (which still exists as a wild bird in Laos!), beef, duck, fish, pork or mushrooms, flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, padaek, roasted ground rice and fresh herbs.
The meat can be either raw or cooked; it is minced and mixed with chili, mint and, optionally, assorted vegetables.
Roughly ground toasted rice (khao khua) is also a very important component of the dish. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice and raw vegetables.
Use only fresh, blemish-free herbs. Chop and slice them by hand, because a food processor will bruise them. Loosely pack the herbs into the measuring cup – more is better here. Although you can use pre-ground chicken, chopping the meat yourself gives the dish a finer, more desirable texture.
Citizens, I am extremely fond of most Laotian cuisine, and I hope you find this version both authentic and adventurous to your palate without taking a detour into unfamiliar flavor territory!
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