Does the name of this dish scare you just a little?
I hope not.
Let’s put it this way ~ do you like ground meat mixed up with asian spices? Do you like stir-fry, with rice and onions? How about lettuce wraps? Or an asian version of sloppy joes?
The only thing that is somewhat weird about this dish, actually, is the sauce. You have to toast rice in a dry pan, and you have to use fish sauce. But it MAKES THE DISH. Absolutely makes it.
When you’re putting that sauce together, you’re thinking, “This stinks and I can’t imagine it enhancing any dish, but it might be good at the bottom of my garbage disposal.”
By the end of it, you want to drink the stuff.
Not really. I’m kidding. I don’t recommend that. But I do recommend you try this insanely good dish that even my husband loves.
Marion Grasby, the YouTube and Instagram Thai/Australian cooking sensation (hey, that rhymed), taught me how to make this dish in the most pure way possible. https://www.marionskitchen.com/thai-chicken-laab/
Thank you, Marion.
And then I started messing with the recipe, and realized that it is SO versatile. It could be your Wednesday night go-to/boy I sure did have a bad day/I’m so sick of meatloaf type of dish.
Here are the key components that make up this recipe:
Some kind of ground meat. Chicken, beef, pork, pork sausage, turkey, bison ~ anything ground, and I prefer the best quality since it’s the main ingredient of the dish. This is where you really want to use grass-fed, etc…
That delectable sauce. Toasted rice, lime juice, sugar, crushed red pepper, and fish sauce. Not sure this part can be tampered with…
Now for the rest ~ and you can go crazy here. Rice, cauliflower rice, vegetables galore, lots and lots of fresh herbs, and even a boiled or fried egg on top. Just keep it all fresh, yummy, and in bite-size pieces.
This dish can be used like a ragu atop rice noodles, too.
If you’re KETO or watching your carbs, you can take out the toasted rice. It’ll be missing a texture, but it’ll still be crazy good. And good for you, by the way, for successfully eliminating any type of food for the sake of health. I support you!
Could this same recipe be turned into meatballs? TRY IT. I DARE YOU.
Okay, Thai food lovers, here’s how it’s done:
I use a wok, but a large frying pan works just fine.
BIG TIP: Have everything ready and lined up for battle on your cutting board. This is wok frying technique at its best ~ everything is diced and in piles on your cutting board, and all you have to do is pay attention to the cooking. I LOVE IT.
- Make the toasted rice: toast about 1/3 cup or more sticky (sushi) rice in a dry pan. Keep moving it around ~ it’ll burn so easily. Just stand there, babysit that rice, and think about your life. What’s the rice telling you? Quit that job? Tell that guy you love him? Once the rice is toasted, ground it up in a mortar and pestle, or a spice/coffee grinder. You only need two tablespoons of it, and the rest can be stored in the fridge for another time.
- Prepare the sauce: in a bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons toasted ground rice, 2 teaspoons sugar, 3 tablespoons fish sauce, 3 tablespoons lime juice, and a dash of your favorite red spice (fresh red chili, crushed red pepper flakes, or maybe even a spicy chili paste). You can leave the spice out if you need to.
- VEGETABLE TIME! Today, I used finely diced Vidalia onion, a couple cloves of garlic, and 3 small stalks of celery. Bok choy, Carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes ~ get yo’ veggies ON.
- Ready to wok! ha ha ha. To your wok or frying pan, add 1 tablespoon avocado oil, and flavor it with a teaspoon of toasted sesame oil. Yum. Best smell ever.
- Drop in your “aromatics” ~ onions, garlic and celery. Allow to soften for a minute.
- Meat Me. Add a pound of your favorite ground meat and cook until brown. Today I used pork sausage. You know ~ I bet this would be insanely good with minced portobello mushrooms, if you’re trying to keep the meat-eating to a minimum. No matter what you use, add a dash or two of soy sauce, for extra umami goodness.
- More Veggies, anyone? Drop in those veggies that don’t need too much cooking ~ zucchini, tomatoes, whatever you have.
- Saucy Time. Add a few tablespoons of that crazy sauce, and taste. Throw in more if you want.
- Need Carbs? Leave it as-is, or add in already-cooked pasta or rice. (I’m obsessed with the frozen bags of jasmine rice at Trader Joe’s. Three minutes in the microwave and you have perfect rice!) You can also push the meat to the sides of the pan and scramble an egg or two in the middle.
- Final and glorious touch ~ Take off the heat and toss in 1/2 cup of mint, cilantro, basil or all of the above. So fresh and fragrant. Beautiful.
Most Thai mommas would insist you serve this dish with lettuce cups, chopped cucumber, and snake beans. I’ve never had snake beans, but the other two really are a perfect match.
I served mine today with boiled eggs on top ~ just because I had them. I also served it with a cold peanut slaw I made yesterday. It wasn’t that great, to be honest. The Laab stole the show and we just pushed the slaw to the side. I’m also super bummed I didn’t have any lettuce for lettuce cups. It’s really my favorite way to enjoy this dish.