Guys! I have been holding out on you. I have made this dish, a family favorite, a billion times–but it is so easy and so fast that is often gets made on nights when I don’t have the time or inclination to take pictures. I have always loved ordering larb gai (sometimes spelled lap kai, laab gai, etc), a sticky rice Northeastern Thai salad made with minced chicken, but I never felt like making it at home. It always required planning ahead between having ground chicken on hand and making the sticky rice.
Then one day I was reading She Simmers, where she discusses both the “anatomy” of the dish, as well as the anatomy of the transliteration of its name (larb/laab/lap/etc). She mentioned that in Thailand, people use all sorts of minced meats in the dish, and just like that a family favorite was born. Because thanks to both my own and my family’s propensity for buying entire cows or sections of a cow at once, I always have ground beef in my freezer. It had just never occurred to me to use it before. I also (with apologies to Leela and Thai purists) serve it with Jasmine rice, cooked up in 20 minutes.
I follow Leela’s recipe for the minced meat faithfully. The one time I tried subbing Thai basil for the mint in a moment of necessity, it definitely made a difference and not in a good way. So I am sending you over to Leela’s post for the recipe. You may notice, however, that our dishes look different. Hers is obviously the more authentically Thai preparation. Mine is what comes from a lifetime of eating Americanized taco salads. I like a crunchy romaine and crunchy shredded napa cabbage with my ground meat. I also like a ton of both. For anything S.E. Asian, I like to add cucumber and shredded carrots. Grape or cherry tomatoes would be nice too, although I did not have any this day. And I always serve the salad with extra fish sauce and lime wedges, as the preferred balance of salty and sour can be very individual.
I have to give another shout-out to Leela for giving me all of the translations for including different kinds of meat in your lap. I used a mix of ground beef and ground turkey in this particular instance, hence the nuea (beef) and kai nguang (turkey). Check the comments section of her post for more translations still!
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