Beef Larb (Meat Salad)
Larb is a traditional Lao/Hmong meat salad served with raw vegetables, chiles, and ground rice flour.
2 pounds sirloin steak, grilled medium rare
Juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
1 teaspoon minced hot chile pepper or crushed hot chile flakes
1 teaspoon minced ginger root or galangal*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sticky rice flour**
1 bunch green onions, green and white parts sliced on the diagonal
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 cups mint, coarsely chopped
Leaf lettuce, 2-3 leaves for each diner
*Galangal has a sharp, citrusy flavor, while ginger has a fresh, pungently spicy and barely sweet flavor.
**Toasted Sticky Rice Flour
This flour is an important ingredient in larb. It is available in Asian grocery stores, but you can also make it at home.
Put 1 cup uncooked sticky rice in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly until the rice is uniformly browned, between 10 and 15 minutes.
Allow the rice to cool, then grind with a clean coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Do not let the flour become too fine. The final product should be a slightly grainy powder.
Grill steak to medium rare. Allow the meat to cool to room temperature. Slice into strips 2 inches long, 1/2 an inch wide, and 1/4 inch thich. Place the sliced meat in a bowl and squeeze lime juice over it. Add the galangal or ginger, chili, salt, sugar, fish sauce, and toasted rice flour. Mix well. Add the green onions, cilantr, and mint. Mix gently. Serve generous scoops of meat salad on a platter of lettuce leaves. Diners add their own garnish.
Accompaniments: 2 quartered limes, thinly sliced chile peppers, Thai basil springs, arugula leaves, bean sprouts, cucumbers, thinly sliced radishes.