Northern Style Pork Salad

Minced meat salads called larb are a very popular "country" food among the Thais. The dish is mostly identified with the regional cuisine of north-eastern Thailand, which the Thais call Isan, but Chiang Mai has its own variation, which can be a bit more like a soupy curry than the Isan style, which is usually rather dry by comparison. Mint predominates the taste of the north-eastern style, but in this northern variation, two kinds coriander provides the taste.

Like many northern Thai curries, this recipe calls for the chillies, shallots and garlic that make up the spice base of the curry to be roasted. Thai cooks will often use a barbecue to roast the ingredients, but an oven broiler or toaster oven will work as well. Cook the spices until they begin to blacken, turning as necessary to roast through. The outer layers are then peeled off the spices before using.

Perhaps the most unusual ingredient in this dish are the Szechuan peppercorns, the small pink seeds that look like, but aren't really, peppercorns. They come from a completely different plant family. While pepper grows on a vine, Szechuan peppercorns come from a small shrub in the prickly ash family. You should be able to find them in Chinese grocery stores.

Northern style pork salad

Northern style pork salad (Larb bab neua)

Ingredients

Dried roasted chilies5
Roasted shallots5 bulbs
Roasted elephant garlic3 bulbs
Galangal1 TblChopped
Salt2 tsp
Coriander seeds1 tsp
Lemongrass1 TblChopped
Szechuan peppercorns1 tsp
Pork300 gGround or chopped
Sawtooth coriander2 TblChopped
Mint2 TblChopped
Spring onions1 TblChopped
Coriander1 TblChopped
Fried garlic2 Tbl
Vegetable oil60 ml

Preparation Method

  • Peal the roasted shallots and garlic. Grind together with the chillies and salt. Add the galangal, coriander seeds, lemongrass and Szechuan peppercorns. Grind to a fine paste.
  • Mix the finely chopped or ground pork with the curry paste and pork stock.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or skillet over high flame. Add the fried garlic and fry a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add the pork mixture and stir-fry until cooked through. Season with added salt if needed, then add the mint and sawtooth coriander.
  • Transfer the cooked larb to a bowl. Mix in the spring onions and coriander. Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle some fried garlic on top. Serve with a selection of fresh coriander, spring onion stalks, long beans, sliced cucumber, mint, cabbage and pickled vegetables.
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