Dude, that’s a crazy long title, I know. But if I made it any shorter, you wouldn’t know what was in it! Just don’t try to say it really fast. I tried; and then I nearly passed out ’cause I’d been spinning my chair at the same time. Dangerous title-age ftw!
So, Larb. It’s not the catchiest of words. It doesn’t sound too appealing, really. Kinda like an inedible fungus variety. Wow, I’m really selling this. The thing is, that I actually ordered this as an appetizer at a Thai restaurant for giggles because they’d misspelled it as “lard”. What turned up was so unassuming looking – yay, ground meat – but ridiculously tasty, filled with happiness-inducing spice and zing. Pairing it with the Thai cucumber salad came about because a certain somebody I know always gorges themselves silly on all the little side dishes of cucumber that come with the food at our favorite Thai restaurant. It really works; the cucumber is so refreshing against the Thai flavors and spices.
Back in the day when I used to regularly eat grains, I’d make this (sans sweet potato) and serve it with tortilla to make little wraps with. Mostly because the man-tester wouldn’t eat a meal without a super-carb. I have no idea how I turned him Paleo. Anyways, this IS good as a light meal / lunch if you skip the sweet potatoes (also one less step, which sometimes is the deciding factor) but it’s delicious with them, too, as you end up with an array of taste-splosions on your plate. Super scientific word. Really.
So if you are going to make the sweet potatoes, you need to get the oven going first. Preheat it to 400F while you peel, then cut your sweet potatoes into cubes. I usually slice the sweet potato into 1cm wide slices, then cut each slice into about 9. Add them to a bowl and toss them in a little cooking oil of your choice, plus spices. I used a little paprika, black pepper and garlic; use what you like! Then spread your cubes out on to a lined baking tray. At this point, I should admit that I forgot to take a photo of them before they went into the oven, but they’re gonna look like this. Except, you know, not cooked. They’re going to take about 20 minutes.
While they ARE cooking, whip up your salad real quick. Cut your cucumber into quarters, then slice and add those to a separate bowl. Next add your sliced green onions, cilantro and cashews. Pretty!
Now’s the perfect time to get your pork (or chicken; also works great) going. Over a medium heat, add it to a large saute pan or skillet with a splash of sesame oil and and the Thai green curry paste. While it is beginning to brown, use that time to chop up your fresh chiles, green onions and cilantro.
After a few minutes, add your coconut aminos and fish sauce and bring it back up to a simmer. When the meat is almost cooked through, add your chiles (I used a mix of mild green chiles and jalapeno as that’s what I had), green onions and cilantro.
Soften for a minute or so and squeeze the fresh juice of a lime over the pan, then remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, remove the cooked meat mixture from the pan and put it into a serving bowl.
Use the remaining liquid in the pan to dress the cucumber and cashew salad. By this time, the sweet potatoes should be done, too; add those to a serving dish as well. I like to bring all the different bowls – larb, salad & sweet potatoes – to the table separately so that people can make up their own plates. Noms!
Larb Gai with Thai Cucumber Salad and Spiced Sweet Potatoes
Larb Gai, the classic Thai ground meat appetizer, accompanied by spicy sweet potatoes and a refreshing Thai cucumber salad. Serve it family style!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Total Time: 30 minutes
For the sweet potatoes:
- 2 – 3 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into large-ish cubes
- Coconut oil
- Seasonings to taste: recommend using black pepper, paprika and garlic
For the Thai Cucumber Salad:
- 1 English cucumber, quartered and chopped (use 2 or more deseeded Americans if you wish)
- 1/4 oz of fresh cilantro
- Half a bunch (6-8) green onions, chopped
- Handful unsalted raw cashews, slightly crushed
For the Larb Gai:
Make the sweet potatoes:
- Preheat the oven to 400F while you peel and cube them. Add to a bowl, toss in a little coconut oil and spices until evenly coated then lay out on lined baking tray and put in oven. They will take about 20 minutes while you make the rest of your meal.
Make the Thai Cucumber Salad:
- Quarter and chop your cucumber (if necessary peel and deseed first) and add to its own bowl. Chop your green onions and cilantro; add these to bowl along with the unsalted raw cashews freshly chopped cilantro. Set aside for dressing later.
Make the Larb Gai:
- Warm your sesame oil (don’t let it smoke) and add your Thai green curry paste. Add your ground meat and stir to coat evenly; let it begin to brown.
- In the meantime, deseed and chop your chiles, your green onion and cilantro; set aside.
- Add the coconut aminos and fish sauce; bring back to a simmer.
- When meat is almost cooked through, add chiles, green onions and cilantro. Finish cooking and squeeze fresh lime juice over the pan.
- Remove from heat. With a slotted spoon, remove meat into its own serving bowl (or plate if you wish) and pour remaining cooking liquid over cucumber salad.
- Take sweet potatoes out of the oven and serve alongside cucumber salad and larb.