These are all my favorite flavors in one place. Fresh herbs: check. Crazy delicious salty sweet umami: check. Fresh lime: check.
This was my first time making this super simplified version of thai “larb,” so I made a pork version and a chicken version to see which was better. Interestingly, they were both great and not terribly different, so I might make the chicken version going forward if I were trying to be health-conscious. If you don’t care too much about your arteries, then pork is always more delicious. Just objectively.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 1lb pork or chicken
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or 3 tablespoons if using chicken, it’s leaner)
- 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1-2 red or green thai chiles, thinly sliced (depending on how hot they are/you want it)
- 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons tamari (or low sodium soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- White or brown steamed rice
- Butter or bib lettuce
- Fresh basil
- Fresh cilantro
- Fresh mint (the most important)
- Lime wedges
Rinse and dry your butter/bib lettuce, and separate into individual full leaves. This type of lettuce is ideal as each leaf should be relatively sturdy and “cup-like” – perfect for holding the ingredients. Prep your fresh herbs as well, torn basil, mint and cilantro leaves. In a pinch, mint is the most important of the herbs, so you could sacrifice one of the only trinity if you needed to but not the mint! Cook your rice however you cook rice, and set aside to keep warm.
Heat oil in a skillet over high heat, and add the pork, garlic and chile. Cook the pork, breaking it up with a spatula, until it’s broken into small crumbled pieces and starts to brown and get crispy (8-10 minutes). Add a bit of salt and pepper (just a pinch or two, you’ll be adding plenty of salt with the tamari and fish sauce).
When the pork (or chicken) is crispy and cooked through, add the broth, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and continue to cook. Use the liquid to deglaze the pan (scrape up yummy goodness that has adhered to the pan) and continue to cook until the liquid is evaporated.
Mix in the 1/4 cup lime juice and remove from the heat.
Serve the larb alongside the fresh herbs, rice, lime wedges, and lettuce cups. Enjoy!!!
*You could add all sorts of additional stuff to this: cucumber, pickled carrots/radishes/daikon, chili paste, omit the rice, etc. You do you.
This recipe adapted from Bon Appetit’s “Crispy Thai Pork with Cucumber Salad.”