Is Larb short for Larbara in the same way that Barb is short for Barbara? Answers on a postcard please. What I do know is that I’d happily eat this very often indeed because it’s not only the national dish of Laos but also because it very much reminds me of being in South East Asia on honeymoon in 2003. It’s the combination of sweet, sour, salty, and hot that does it for me, especially when fresh mint and coriander are thrown into the mix. If all of that isn’t enough to make you try it, the whole thing can be whipped up in a jiffy – by the time the rice is cooked, so is everything else. And no, the courgette isn’t authentic, but I’m always trying to get extra greenery into everything because I am my mother’s daughter. Serves 4.
Rice of choice (I used Thai sticky)
1 tbsp veg oil
500g minced pork
1 courgette, very small dice
2 shallots, chopped
2 tsp light brown sugar
2 tbsp fish sauce
Pinch +/- chilli flakes
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
3 spring onions, sliced
Handful chopped coriander
Small handful chopped mint leaves
- Measure your rice in a mug, tip it into a saucepan, half (ish) fill the pan with water and swirl it all around with your hand, tip out the water and repeat twice more, then use the same mug to put twice the volume of water into the pan. It doesn’t need to be an exact science, but you’re aiming for 1 x rice : 2 x water.
- Cover with a lid, bring to the boil for a few minutes, then reduce to a really low simmer, and I mean really low, almost off completely, and leave to steam for 20 minutes or so. Fluff up with a fork (or not, if you’re using sticky rice) and keep it warm.
- When the rice is on, heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok, then add the pork and fry until browning – this will take a good 5 minutes plus.
- Tip in the courgette and shallots, fry for another minute or two.
- Next mix in the sugar, juice of 1 lime, fish sauce and chilli flakes (the classic Sweet, Sour, Salty, Hot combo). Keep on frying for another minute or two.
- Taste to see if you need to add more sugar, fish sauce, or lime juice (I normally use about a lime and a half).
- Finally mix in almost all of the spring onions, coriander and mint, then serve with the rice and the rest of the greenery.