Larb is a traditional lettuce wrapped meat salad regarded as the national dish of Laos. It can be made with any kind of meat and occasionally fish, seasoned with lime juice, fish sauce, chilies and fresh herbs. This Thai inspired recipe was given to me by my BFF, Rhonda. The Basil, Mint, Cilantro, Jalapeño and Chili Garlic Sauce give the ground turkey (keeping it healthy) a zippy flavor without being too spicy.
Serve on cool, crisp Bibb lettuce leaves which provide a nice contrast to the spice of the meat. It is a bit time consuming to prep this recipe but the cooking time is minimal and the outcome is worth the time spent chopping. I have served this as an appetizer and a light summer meal with mango slices. It keeps well, actually when made the day before the flavors have time to be absorbed by the turkey and meld together. Thai larb is great to have in the refrigerator as a quick lunch or last minute appetizer.
Wine Pairing: A crisp dry white wine with a touch of acidity works very well to balance the spice while not overpowering the dish. While a Sauvignon Blanc would fit the bill, our favorite is Viognier. The flavors and mouth-feel fall between a Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. We prefer Viogniers with flavors of peach, ripe pineapple and citrus with a hint of minerality. On the night we prepared this dish we enjoyed a bottle of 2010 Illahe Viognier from Dallas, Oregon $16.
Thai Larb – Makes 25 pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 ½ tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 ½ tablespoons Sriracha Garlic-Chile Sauce
1 pound ground raw turkey or chicken
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
¼ cup chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 ½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 ½ teaspoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper
25 small Boston or Bibb lettuce leaves
1. In a large bowl combine fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and garlic-chile sauce, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add ground turkey or chicken, mix well.
2. In a large non-stick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add turkey or chicken mixture. Use a wooden spoon to break up any chucks of turkey or chicken. Cook until turkey or chicken is no longer pink. Remove from heat; drain off fat. Let cool.
3. When turkey or chicken mixture is cool, add green onions, cilantro, mint, basil, ginger and jalapeno pepper, mix well. Let mixture stand while you rinse and pat the lettuce leaves dry.
4. To serve, pile a small amount of the turkey or chicken mixture onto each lettuce leaf.