Thursday, August 14, 2014

Larb, Hollywood, and Fast Friday!

It's been a long time since I've done a Fast Friday but I find myself again in Phoenix. We are making headway and managed to clear out many of the garage cabinets. I think my mother must have saved every vase that was ever given to her. She also had numerous clay pots of every size and shape. And yes, many of them, never held a plant! I don't even want to go into the carry on bags that accumulated over the years before wheels on bags had yet to be invented. But that is behind us now and tomorrow we can move into the air conditioning! Thank goodness for that!

Recently my mom found out that she is prediabetic which means no sugar, flour or grains. I am not quite understanding the rationale of some of this, but she is doing what she is told. She finds breakfast the hardest meal to eat, because she misses her toast. I am going to make her this egg casserole, which I think will be a nice change from scrambled eggs. And I am going to make her today's recipe, just because it is so good.

Larb isn't an easy sell when it comes to its name. Really Hollywood does a much better job promoting second rate actors. Larb just sounds kind of lardy and who wants to eat that. But after one bite, you will love me. I promise. This is a great dish. Now if one could just think of a better way to promote it. Perhaps Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt feeding each other spoonfuls of larb? Maybe...

Larb is a minced meat salad, often thought to be from Thailand but it is actually the national dish of Laos. Frankly, I don't care where it's from, as long as I can eat it. This is a great summer dish and so easily prepared. It is perfect to keep in your fridge for something healthy and easily snacked on. Perfect wrapped in a lettuce leaf or even in a tortilla; it can also be served over steamed rice. Dice up a few mangoes for a side salad and one has a perfect meal on a hot summer's day! 

Feel free to use any ground meat in this dish. You could use already ground chicken, beef, pork or turkey if you want to skip the food processor, but I like the grinding of the chicken with all the spices. It seems to blend everything together well. This dish has lots of salty tanginess and frankly makes the best lettuce wrap I've had in awhile. However I must tell you that it also tasted great straight out of a container that sat in the fridge for a few days. Nothing was lost in translation! Just add a squirt of sriracha and a few ground peanuts and you won't need air conditioning any more! 

Chicken Larb
From: From Away
Yield: About 4 servings
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

For the chicken:
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons lemongrass paste
Zest from one lime
1 small red Thai chile, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
8 small iceberg lettuce or hearts of romaine leaves
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
Sriracha, to taste
Cilantro leaves and stems, roughly torn

Mix up dressing ingredients and set aside.
Place chicken, shallot, lemongrass paste, zest of a lime, chile, garlic, fish sauce, salt, and 1 T of oil in food processor. Pulse until meat is minced. Do not over process or this will make the mixture too fine.
Heat remaining oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken mixture and cook until chicken starts to brown, breaking up meat as it cooks. When finished cooking, stir in dressing and top with peanuts, cilantro and a good squirt of sriracha! Serve with lettuce leaves to wrap or over rice.

Other great Asian dishes: