Laap Muu – shut up and get in my belly. This has to be one of my most favourite dishes to whip up on any given week night. This zesty hot meat salad hails from Laos, but many of you may recognise it from your local Thai restaurant menu.
Laap (otherwise known as larb, or larp, or lahb, or even laab), is often touted as the unofficial dish of Laos. The meat in this salad can be either cooked or raw, with many variations on the meat. This recipe is my own and I tend to alternate between chicken and pork. I’ve put some tips on how to get your lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves finely chopped and sliced below as well.
- 2 tblsp vegetable oil
- 500g pork mince
- 1 stick of lemongrass, finely chopped
- 7 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced (asian grocer or good green grocer)
- 2 birds-eye chillies, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- juice of 2 limes
- 3 tblsp fish sauce
- 1 1/2 cups coriander leaves
- 1 1/2 cups Vietnamese mint leaves (or regular mint)
- 3 golden shallots, finely sliced
- 8 iceberg lettuce leaves
- 4 tblsp chopped unsalted roast peanuts
- 4 tblsp fried shallots (asian food aisle or grocer)
- steamed jasmine rice
This is a dish you want to completely prep before heating up the pan. To get your lemongrass nice and fine, snip the tip of the white end off (the end you’ll be using), grab a pestle (as in mortar and), and smash the end of the lemon grass until it is bruised and shredded. Now finely slice away at the end and you should have some nicely chopped lemongrass ready to work with – minus the woody chunks.
Moving onto the kaffir lime leaves. If you can get them fresh, lovely. Don’t fret if you can’t though. You can usually get them in jars steeped in water, and also dried in the spices section. Any left over fresh ones that you may have will also keep in the freezer for the next use. Start by removing the stem from your lime leaves, then collect the halves into a stack. Fold them in half and slice finely along the length of the centre of the leaves. Prep the rest of your mise en place and be sure to have it gathered nearby for laap assembly.
In a large fry pan or wok, heat your vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, cook your pork mince on high until mostly cooked, then add your lemongrass, kaffir lime, chilli flakes, and one of your birds-eye chillies. Stir, then add your lime juice and and fish sauce, tasting to make sure your dish isn’t too salty and it’s also zesty enough. Remove from the heat and throw in your coriander, mint, and golden shallots. Stir to combine and move into a serving dish.
Set the table with your cooked laap salad, lettuce leaves, some cooked jasmine rice (for the kids), and garnishes comprised of chopped roast peanuts, fried shallots and the other chopped birds-eye chilli.
To eat, fill a lettuce leaf with a small amount of rice (optional), the laap, and your garnishes on top. Wrap up and enjoy. Don’t forget to have lots of napkins!
Serves 4 Asian flavour seekers