Northeastern Pork Salad
Laap (larb, laab) is a Northeastern (Issan) and Lao dish which, like som tum, is popular all over the country. It usually consists of cooked ground meat which is tossed with lime juice, chili powder, fish sauce & toasted rice powder, along with long coriander and mint.
- 1/2 cup ground pork, not too lean
- 1/4 cup water (for cooking pork)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon roasted jasmine rice powder
- 1 teaspoon roasted chili powder
- 1/8 cup mint leaves, packed
- 2 teaspoons chopped scallions
- 1 tablespoons sliced shallots
- 1 teaspoon sliced long coriander
- 2″/5cm wedge of flat yellow chinese cabbage (optional)
- 2-3 small dried chilies (optional)
- Toast the raw rice for a few minutes on medium-high until golden brown. Keep flipping them every few seconds so they don’t burn.
- Pound the toasted rice in a stone mortar & pestle until powdered (see pic).
- Toast the chili powder for a minute or two on medium-high until slightly darker and fragrant. Stir constantly. This can be quite dangerous if left forgotten on the stove — the smoke which is produced is quite spicy and can hurt your nose & lungs if left for too long!
- Boil the water in a saucepan and add the pork. Break apart and stir very gently until it’s cooked through. Strain and add to a bowl. Let it cool to slightly warm or room temperature.
- Slice the shallots into thin rounds. Slice the scallions into 1/2″ (2cm) long pieces. Cut the long coriander into tiny pieces. Tear off the leaves of the mint and wash well. Set aside.
- Add the chili powder, sugar, lime juice, toasted rice powder, fish sauce, mint, scallions, shallots and long coriander to the bowl. Stir well.
- Serve with a wedge or Chinese cabbage. You can top with small dried chilies too, if you want.
Really do be careful with the toasting of chili powder. Once Jett and I were cooking and we left it on the oven for about 2 minutes un-attended. We came back and moved the pan out of the way, and a puff of black smoke came out which was so toxic it hurt my eyes, lungs, nose, everything. We had to leave the room until it aired out. Even the cats ran away.
Laap can be eaten warm or room temperature, but should be eaten right away otherwise it won't taste good.