Now & Then: A recipe from the Cuisine archives, updated

This Thai larb is a contemporary take on a 1991 Cuisine recipe.
AARON MCLEAN

This Thai larb is a contemporary take on a 1991 Cuisine recipe.

Thai larb is one of my favourite dishes – the sour, spicy salad packed with fresh herbs is a real winner. Back in issue 24, the Thai-flavoured minced pork recipe had most of the elements of a traditional larb but a few key ingredients were a lot scarcer then. Soy sauce replaced fish sauce, lemons for limes. It also lacked the key ingredient of ground, toasted rice that adds flavour and texture. I've doubled the herbs as they really add flavour and added Thai basil, which is now more readily available and adds a wonderful anise hit. I love the addition of water chestnuts in the original recipe, for crunch and lightness. When seasoning with chilli, fish sauce and so on, start with the lesser quantity and add more to taste once it is stirred through the pork.

THAI-FLAVOURED MINCED PORK (original recipe from 1991)
Serves 6

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely sliced lemongrass, tender part only
6 spring onions, including green part, finely chopped
500g pork and veal mince
12-15 water chestnuts, chopped
½ cup coriander leaves, shredded
¼ cup mint leaves, shredded
2 medium or 5 smaller hot red chillies, finely sliced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
juice of 2 large lemons
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ cup peanuts
1 lettuce, separated into washed leaves
whole mint leaves

Thai-flavoured minced pork from Cuisine issue 24, 1991.

Thai-flavoured minced pork from Cuisine issue 24, 1991.

Heat the oil in a very hot wok and lightly toss-fry the lemongrass and spring onions. Add the meat, turning it regularly until it is broken up and cooked through (4 minutes). Add the water chestnuts, shredded herbs and chilli, stir, then add the soy, lemon juice and sesame oil. Check for salt (depends on the soy). Throw in the peanuts 

at the last minute and turn onto a plate, leaving excess liquid behind. 

To serve, spoon the meat into the lettuce leaves, adding a sprig of mint to each, then roll and eat with the fingers. 

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THAI LARB (updated version)
Serves 4 / Preparation 20 minutes / Cooking 20 minutes

2 tablespoons Thai sticky rice (glutinous rice)
1 tablespoon peanut oil
500g pork mince
3 shallots, sliced
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
¼-½ teaspoon chilli flakes
2-3 tablespoons fish sauce
2-3 tablespoons lime juice plus lime halves to serve
1 tablespoon thinly sliced lemongrass, tender part only
6 spring onions, finely chopped
100g  water chestnuts, rinsed, chopped
1 cup coriander leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup Thai basil leaves
iceberg lettuce and sticky rice to serve

To make the ground toasted rice, put the rice in a wok and toast over a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, tossing regularly until golden. If you look closely, you will see it start to pop like popcorn when it's ready. Put in a mortar or spice grinder and pound or grind to a powder.

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Heat the oil in the wok over high heat and cook the pork, breaking up until dry and cooked through – it will take about 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the shallots then add the chilli, chilli flakes, fish sauce and lime juice. Toss well, taste and adjust the seasoning. Leave to cool to room temperature.

To serve, add the lemongrass, spring onions, water chestnuts, coriander, mint and Thai basil and toss well. Serve with the lettuce, lime halves and sticky rice.  

 

 - Cuisine

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