Saturday, May 7, 2011

Larb Mu, aka Holy ($*#&!@ This is Amazing!

One of my favorite Thai dishes is larb gai, a spicy ground chicken salad with lots of lime juice.  I came across a recipe for Larb Mu (pork instead of chicken) on Appetite for China and decided to give it a try.  HOLY CRAP THIS WAS AWESOME.  I'd never heard of toasted rice powder before, so I followed the instructions for making my own with some jasmine rice.  This salad tasted exactly like the larb gai I've had in Thai restaurants, except with pork.  It was the perfect mix of spicy, tangy, and minty.  The rice powder added some crunch and a tiny bit of toastiness.  If you make your own, make sure you grind the rice really well.  I had a few bits in mine that were a little too crunchy.   Aside from the chopping, this dish didn't take long to make because the herbs don't need to be chopped.  I made a half recipe for 2 people, but otherwise I didn't change anything.  Definitely have some extra lime wedges for squeezing after the salad is served.  When I make this again, I'll probably put some lettuce or cabbage under it and make less rice to serve on the side. 

Larb Mu
from Appetite for China
Serves 2

1/2 lb ground pork
2 tsp vegetable oil
1.5 Tbsp uncooked rice, or 1.5 tablespoons store-bought toasted rice powder (I used jasmine rice and made my own)
1.5 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp chili garlic sauce
1/2 tsp sugar
Juice from 1/2 lime(I juiced the whole thing and used the extra juice for topping my salad after I served it)
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
1 or 2 scallions, chopped
1 small handful cilantro
1 small handful mint
2 or 3 dried red chilis for garnish (optional)

1) Heat the oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Cook the pork for 3 to 4 minutes, breaking up larger clumps with a spatula, until no trace of pink remains.  Set aside to cool.
2) Make the rice powder.  Heat another skillet over medium heat. Toast the uncooked rice in the dry skillet, stirring every few seconds to avoid burning, until the rice is golden brown and has a nutty fragrance. Remove from the heat and grind the rice with a mortar until it turns into a powder.  Or use a spice grinder if you have one (I wish I did!)
3)  Once the pork has cooled for at least 5 minutes, stir in the toasted rice powder, fish sauce, chili sauce, sugar and lime juice. Add freshly ground pepper to taste. Toss with shallots, scallions, cilantro and mint. 
4) Serve in bowls and garnish with dried red chilis and squeeze on extra lime juice to taste. 

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