Lahp is a spicy meat dish that is served over a bed of lettuce and/or cabbage. The word lahp apparently means “good fortune” – so this is a dish served often at weddings and other celebrations. Kind of like how we in the Southern U.S. eat black-eyed peas and collards at New Year’s, I guess?
I chose to make this dish because I already had many of the ingredients on hand, and because it seemed like an easy thing to pack for lunch. I was also curious about the Toasted Rice powder, or Kao Kua, which is used as an ingredient. First, you toast raw uncooked rice (preferably the glutinous/sweet rice shown above) evenly in a pan for a few minutes until it is nice an golden brown. Then you grind it into a powder and use it to add a nutty flavor to various dishes like lahp. Kao Kua is stated to be a common ingredient in northeastern Thailand.
1/2 lb. ground pork or beef
1 c. chicken or beef stock
1/2 c. chopped shallot
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 Tbsp. toasted rice powder (described above)
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 tsp. sugar
Bring the stock to a boil, then add the ground meat and stir gently to break up larger chunks. Simmer until meat is cooked evenly, should be less than 5 minutes. Take off the heat. Strain out and discard most of the broth, leaving just a few Tbsp. with the meat. Add remaining ingredients to the cooked meat and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking – this is one of those dishes that is meant to be sweet, sour, salty and hot – all at the same time.
Serve seasoned meat over a bed of lettuce, and add more fresh cilantro and mint, if desired. The liquid itself acts as a salad “dressing” of sorts. You can also add cabbage, green beans, or other vegetables.
Adapted from: Real Thai: The Best of Thailand’s Regional Cooking, by Nancie McDermott