Thai Pork Larb

A Larb Story

Larb (along with Khao Soi) is one of my favorite Northern Thai dishes. I had tried it once in Portland, but really fell in love with it in 2016 when I spent a couple of weeks traveling in Thailand. I found myself ordering it at every restaurant that offered it. The crispy, caramelized pork bits with the aromatics and herbs, spicy peppers, and punchy lime and fish sauce flavor are to die for. So I set out to recreate it at home using ingredients that are easy to find and snuck in some veggies, of course!

This has to be one of the easiest Thai recipes out there. All you have to do is brown some ground pork, then add everything else in and your done! The key is to have all of your ingredients prepped, chopped and measured before you start cooking.

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What is larb?

Larb is a minced meat salad from Lao typically made with pork, flavored with aromatics, fresh herbs, and toasted rice powder. Larb is classically served room temp with either sticky rice or lettuce wraps. In the winter, I like to eat it warm served with white jasmine rice.

How do you make larb?

It comes together super fast! You brown the ground pork in a pan, breaking it up into small pieces and then letting it cook until deep golden brown. Then you add all of the ingredients in and cook for another minute or so to meld the flavors and you’re done! Serve it with white rice.

What is fish sauce?

Fish sauce is made from fish that are fermented in salt that’s used in many Thai and East Asian dishes. It may sound a little gross to you, but it adds so much flavor and ‘umami’ to dishes. It’s worth getting a good quality fish sauce — this one is my favorite!

You want these golden brown bits to form. They mean FLAVOR.

You want these golden brown bits to form. They mean FLAVOR.

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Thai Pork Larb

Serves 4

Ingredients:
1 cup jasmine white rice
1 tbsp oil
1 lb ground pork
1 cup finely chopped broccoli (about 1 small head)
3 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
3-inch knob ginger, grated
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
4 red spicy chilis, thinly sliced (optional or substitute 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
1 stalk of lemongrass, bottom 1/3 only, tough outer layer removed, thinly sliced*
1 ½ tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice + wedges for serving (about 2-3 limes)
1 cup fresh mint leaves, divided
½ cup roasted peanuts, chopped, divided 

*Lemongrass is sold at most grocery stores near the fresh herb section. If you can’t find it, then just skip it. But I highly recommend using it if you can!!

Instructions:

Use a fine mesh sieve to rinse the rice until the water runs clear. In a medium pot, add the rice and 1 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed and rice is cooked. Fluff with a fork, cover loosely, and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the ground pork, break it up into chunks and let it cook, undisturbed for 5 minutes, or until deeply brown on one side (this means flavor!).

Continue to break it up into smaller chunks, then give it a stir and let it cook undisturbed for 2 more minutes to continue to brown. If there is a lot of fat in the skillet, remove all but about 3 tablespoons. You want this fat to help keep it saucy and delicious!

Add the broccoli, garlic, ginger, shallot, chilis (if using), and lemongrass and stir to mix it all together. Stir in the fish sauce, lime juice, ½ cup mint leaves and ¼ cup peanuts and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from heat. 

Serve the larb over the white rice and top with remaining mint, peanuts and lime wedges.

Tip and tricks for the perfect Thai Pork Larb

  1. Brown your pork AKA don’t touch it! Once you broken the pork into pieces, don’t touch it for at least 5 minutes. You’ll break it up into smaller pieces afterwards.

  2. This recipes comes together super fast, so prep all ingredients before starting the recipe.

  3. Taste! Once you’re done, taste the pork and add more salt, fish sauce or lime if you think it needs something.