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If you have mint growing in your garden – you may have the same challenge I do … delicious as it is – it grows like a weed! I trim mine often and am always looking for ways to integrate mint into my meals. Thankfully, my daughter visited this summer and made a massive amount of Larb for our family. So we finally had the perfect dish for all my fresh mint.
“What the heck is Larb?” you might ask … Well, let me tell you … it is one of my favorite Asian dishes – common in Vietnam, Laos and parts of Thailand. It’s a room-temperature, minced meat salad (some call it an appetizer) that is jazzed up with mint, cilantro, lemongrass, chilies, fish sauce, and lime. My daughter’s version is definitely Americanized and a far cry from traditional recipes you’ll discover – but it’s still a delightful balance of traditional Thai flavors – sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy.
This is a wonderful dish to serve for groups – you can set it up almost like a taco bar. A plate of lettuce leaves, cabbage slaw, meat mixture, and toppings. Everyone can make their own finger food. I like to put half slaw and half meat mixture in my lettuce cup then top with the condiments. I make a lot of extra cabbage salad for later use just with leftover dressing too.
Chicken & Turkey Larb
Serves 8 – 10
- 2/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 2 Thai chilis, finely chopped
Meat Mixture Ingredients
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ¾ lbs (12 oz) ground turkey
- ⅓ cup fish sauce
- 1 cup thinly sliced green onions, white and light green parts only
- 1 Tbsp peeled and grated ginger
- 3/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced shallots
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh lemongrass
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced Thai or serrano chilies
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- ½ head purple cabbage
- 6 carrots, peeled
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (or basil leaves if it’s summer)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
Additional Ingredients for serving
- 2 small heads of butter lettuce or green leaf lettuce, washed and separated into leaves
- ½ cup chopped roasted peanuts
- ⅓ cup roasted, ground brown rice (I used my small coffee grinde to make it powder-liker)
- Hot sauce of your choice
Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl – set aside.
Prepare the toppings by chopping the peanuts and placing the peanuts in one bowl and the mint and cilantro leaves in small, separate bowl. For the rice – toast brown rice in a pan over medium heat until it is aromatic, then grind into a sandy powder consistency in a coffee grinder.
To prepare the slaw – grate the cabbage and the carrots in your food processor. Empty into a bowl and add cilantro and mint and cover with a towel or plastic to keep it fresh.
Using the same Cuisinart bowl, switch to the regular chopping blade and add the cilantro, mint, lemongrass (cut into 2-3 pieces), ginger, garlic and peppers for your meat mixture. Puree for a minute or so, scraping down the sides. Set this mixture of aromatics aside in a bowl.
Grind the de-boned chicken and turkey with the fish sauce, grated ginger & green onion in the Cuisinart – this brines the meat if you grind the poultry with the fish sauce.
Heat a large, straight-sided frying pan, add oil until hot. Add chicken and turkey, breaking it up with a spoon and wait until it is no longer pink, about eight minutes.
Add the aromatics mixture from the Cuisinart and stir until the vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about four minutes. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve – arrange individual lettuce leaves on a large platter, scoop the meat mixture into another bowl and place all the toppings in individual bowls alongside and invite your guests to put together their own plates of delicious larb!
This is a great do ahead recipe – you can make almost everything up to a day or two in advance! We’ve done it with friends and all you have to do is cook the meat at the last minute. Any fresh soft lettuce works for wrapping. This simply a great meal or appetizer – delicious, healthful and a little something different to boot!