Laab is a speciality of northern Thailand: a spicy ground meat, usually made with beef. I recently had Laab made with duck, however, at the Blue Elephant in Fulham, London, where it was served on crisp lettuce leaves and tasted extremely good. When I make it myself, I serve it this way as a first course, or I put it on a plate of freshly cooked Thai Fragrant rice for lunch or supper, or for a buffet party I pile it on a platter lined with various kinds of lettuce leaves.
One of the principal ingredients is roasted rice which has been ground to a coarse powder. To roast rice, simply heat it in a frying pan without any oil, stirring it continuously with a wooden spoon for about 4 minutes, so that every grain is nicely browned. You can grind it in a mortar, or put it in a blender or coffee-grinder, but don’t grind it fine.
The recipe below works equally well with either duck or beef. If you don’t like your food too chilli-hot, use the minimum amount of chilli, but do use some.
Stir-fry the shallots and chillies in the oil for 1–2 minutes. Add the ground meat and continue stir-frying for 2 more minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients except the ground rice, spring onions/scallions and coriander/cilantro leaves. Increase the heat and continue cooking on a high heat until all liquid has been absorbed. Stir, and adjust the seasoning. Remember that the fish sauce is very salty, so don’t add salt unless you find it is needed.
Add the ground rice and spring onions/scallions. Stir for 2 more minutes. Serve as suggested above, garnished with the coriander/cilantro leaves.
© 1994 Sri Owen. All rights reserved.