Northern Thai Style Minced pork Salad
I first tasted laab many years ago at a rural market in southern Yunnan, the Chinese province that borders Southeast Asia. It was laab at its plainest, and closest to its origins: raw minced pork blended with hot chiles, Sickuan pepper, and salt. It was the raining season, and I stood under as awning with a crowd of locals, eating, like them, with my fingers delicious mouthful by mouthful.
Since then I have come across this minced port salad all over Southeast Asia, and I have found that it varies both by region and by cook. The Shan in Burma lightly fry minced pork with shallots, lemongrass, galangal, sesame seeds, and a roasted chile paste. It's hard to beat, laab is made of minced meat lightly poached in broth, then dressed with chiles, fresh herbs, and roasted rice powder, and eaten with sticky rice.
But the Tai Koen people of Northern Thailand take laab to a whole new level, a sophisticated evolution of the original. In traditional northern-style pork laab (Laab Mu), the minced meat is enriched with finely sliced pork liver and heart as well as a little pork blood, then mixed with a nutmeg-chile-black pepper spice blend and lightly fried in garlic oil, brightened with fresh herbs, and topped with fried garlic, pork cracklings, and more herbs.
- ½ cup of cooking oil
- tablespoon mashed garlic
- Thai red chiles, stemmed and minced,
- 300 grams ground pork
- 1 tablespoon crushed red chile flakes
- 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ½ tablespoon ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon ground coriander
- ½ tablespoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons minced mint, plus more to garnish
- 1 tablespoon minced scallions, plus more garnishing,
- 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
thinly sliced kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, shallots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes to garnish...
Laab Mu - Tai Koen People Style Preperation
Heat the cooking oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and chiles, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add pork, chile flakes, five-spice, nutmeg, salt, pepper, coriander, and cardamom, and cook, sti8rring, until pork is browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in mind, scallions, cilantro, and fish sauce, and cook until pork is done, about 4 minutes.
Transfer to a large serving bowl and top with scallions, cilantro, kaffir leaves, lemongrass, shallots, mint, cilantro, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Serve at room temperature.