Tuesday, March 24, 2015

At Home: Thai Larb Lettuce Cups

Larb (pronounced "lawb") means salad, and is one of our all-time favorite Thai dishes.  It is a very common dish served throughout Thailand as well as Laos.  It can be made with beef, pork, or chicken.  We made a version of Thai Larb Lettuce Cups to share with you on What Micky Eats...At Home.  These cups are so fresh and healthy, and whip up in about 20 minutes or less.  Larb is often extremely spicy, but the lime juice and herbs make for an exotic and splendid combination.  Plus, putting the larb in lettuce cups make it an easy appetizer to gobble up.

Thai Larb Lettuce Cups (Adapted from Steamy Kitchen)
  • 1½ Tbsp vegetable oil
  • ½ lb. ground chicken or turkey
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • ¼ red onion, diced
  • 1 teasp minced garlic
  • 5 Thai chiles, seeded and chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 teasp soy sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • a bunch of fresh cilantro or mint, cut into chiffonade
  • 1 head butter lettuce
  • 2 Tbsp peanuts or cashews, chopped

- Heat a wok or large sauté pan over high heat. When hot, swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil and add the meat.
- Use your spatula to break up the meat and spread out over the surface of the pan. Cook until browned, about 3 minutes.
- Push the ground meat to one side of the pan and swirl in the remaining ½ tablespoon of oil.
- Add the shallots, red onion, garlic and fresh chiles and sauté the aromatics until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the fish sauce, lime juice and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly.
- Top with herbs.
- Spoon into middle of lettuce cups, top with chopped nuts, and serve.

This recipe calls for cilantro and/or mint, but Thai basil would be super tasty too. It is a classic Thai complement to the salty flavor of the fish sauce. You can make a vegetarian option by subbing the meat for extra firm tofu.  Feel free to add less or more chiles depending on your preferred spice level.  Also, you can never have enough lime juice, in my opinion.  So, I suggest cutting up some extra lime wedges to squirt on each cup as well.  Try them with my Thai Coconut Chicken & Shrimp and Thai Chicken Meatballs.


  1. Love larb, and love your recipe - especially the lettuce cup presentation. You should check out the addition of 'rice powder'. You can get this for just a couple bucks in most Asian markets, its toasted rice, ground to a powder (not flour). It's in most traditional Thai and Laotian larb recipes and adds a really great nutty quality, plus soaks up a bit of the juices, giving it a slightly grainy quality too.

    Stuart - www.arecipeforexcess.com

    1. Thanks for the tip, Stuart. I'll keep an eye out for it for the next time I make this recipe.


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