Thai Holiday Appetizer – Larb”alicious”

As I think you have come to understand, I LOVE PORK!! As part of the NC Pork Council blogger network it was exciting to learn our December challenge was to create a holiday appetizer or side. The challenge was an open canvas to creativity as we could use any cut of pork, and create any appetizer/side we wanted.

I have an intense love affair with Thai food so decided I would navigate into the world of sweet, salty,sour and spicy for this challenge. Certain Thai foods resonate with me; Larb, Tom Yum, Penang Curry are just a few. I went the Larb route and consulted my friend and well known cookbook author, Nancie McDermott . She has travelled extensively in Thailand and written several cookbooks on the subject of Thai food. In the world of Thai foods this dish is called several things. From Nancie, I learnt you can find this Thai salad listed as larb, lahp or laab. The recipe below is from her Quick and Easy Thai cookbook, a must have for anyone interested in the cuisine.

In Nancie’s words, “The beloved Thai “salad” (can be) made with everything from pork, chicken and beef to catfish and roast duck.”

I turned this recipe into a fun and festive Holiday treat using lettuce cups and Asian soup spoons. It turned out lovely and I plan to make this again ASAP.

1209151028 2


Issahn-Style Minced Pork Salad with Crunchy Rice and Fresh Mint

lahp moo

For the lahp:
1 cup chicken stock or water
½ pound coarsely ground pork
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1 to 2 tablespoons dried red chili flakes
½ teaspoon sugar
A handful of fresh mint leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots, or purple onion, or onion
2 heaping tablespoons thinly sliced green onions

Small lettuce leaf cups, such as limestone lettuce, Boston, bibb,
or butter lettuce
Cucumber slices
Mint leaves

Quick and Easy Thai

Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Crumble in the meat and coo, turning and pressing to break up larger chunks. Cook the meat evenly, 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. Scoop the meat into a medium bowl with about ¼ cup of the broth.

Add the roasted rice powder to the bowl along with the lime juice, fish sauce, chili flakes, and sugar. Use your hands or two large spoons to toss and mix everything together well. Tear the mint leaves in half, add to the bowl along with the shalots and green onions, and mix well. Mound the salad on a small, deep serving platter, juices and all, and garnish with the mint sprigs, lettuce leaves, and cucumber. Or scoop lahp into lettuce cups, arrange lettuce cups on a platter, and serve. Serve at room temperature.

*Roasted Rice Powder:

¼ cup raw long-grain rice

Toast the raw rice grains in a small dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and tossing, for 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice turns a wheaty golden brown. Tip onto a plate. Grind to a coarse powder, using a small food processor, spice grinder, blender, or mortar and pestle. Use 1 tablespoon for this recipe and reserve the rest for another use.
Add roasted rice powder to the cooked meat along with the lime juice and seasonings, and toss well.

This recipe comes from Quick & Easy Thai: 70 Everyday Recipes
by Nancie McDermott . Published by Chronicle Books (2004); all rights reserved. You can find all her cookbooks at

NOTES: I altered this recipe based on other herbs and peppers I had in the house. I added a handful of cilantro and mint and used finely diced Thai chili’s. I did not use chicken stock, just fish sauce and a few tablespoons of water and drained the meat after cooking. This was simply because I knew the preparation for this particular appetizer would need little to no juices.

I would also have added a slicer of red pepper or red Thai chili to the top of each spoon for color but I did not have any.

After consulting with Nancie, she reassured me that if I didn’t have the time to make the Roasted Rice Powder, I could skip it. Thank you Nancie =)

Happy Holidays and Happy Eating!




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