Beef Larb is made in one skillet and takes only 30 minutes to prepare.
While not authentic, Beef Larb is simple to prepare and has all of the great flavors you’ve come to expect from Thai cuisine.
It’s brimming with fresh herbs, and the beef is drenched in the best savory sauce. For a filling meal, serve the beef over coconut lime rice.
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WHAT IS BEEF LARB
Larb Gai is a traditional Thai and Laotian dish that is a meat salad flavored with lime, garlic, chili peppers, palm sugar, fish sauce, and rice powder.
It’s a flavor explosion with spicy, sour, sweet, and salty notes in every bite. My Beef Larb recipe isn’t an authentic Thai dish, but it is a quick 30-minute weeknight dinner.
Authentic larb can be a time-consuming labor of love, not a weeknight recipe, so you can now enjoy this “cheaper” larb whenever cravings strike!
To make this recipe more accessible, I’ve substituted soy sauce for fish sauce (a more readily available ingredient in most kitchens), replaced the traditional ground up chilies with chili sauce, and omitted the toasted rice powder.
You’ll need some fresh ingredients, such as herbs, lime, and zucchini, but the rest should be pantry staples, such as frozen ground beef, rice, coconut milk, soy sauce, chili sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and oil.
SIMPLE THAI LARB RECIPE (LARB MOO) – WHAT SURPRISES ME THE MOST
Thai larb cooks in a surprisingly short and straightforward manner. Until the meat is fully cooked, it is barely seasoned.
This is nearly the inverse of how I was taught to cook ground/minced meat, which is seasoned first to bring out more flavor.
On the other hand, I completely understand the logic behind Thai larb.
The meat-based salad is garnished with tons of fresh herbs, mint, and citrus, and all of these ingredients don’t do well with heat, so it’s no surprise that Thai larb has become a popular dish around the world due to its simplicity and ability to be enjoyed all year round.
HOW TO ENJOY BEEF LARB
- Over coconut rice: Our favorite way to serve Beef Larb is on top of coconut lime rice. This rice is incredibly simple to make; we replace the majority of the water with a can of coconut milk and stir in some lime juice and zest once it’s cooked.
- With sticky rice: Larb Gai is traditionally served with sticky rice. Try this sticky rice recipe for a delicious treat.
- In lettuce wraps, layer lettuce (Boston, Bibb, or Iceberg) with rice and the beef mixture.
- In a salad, layer chopped lettuce, beef, and a few more vegetables (like cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced sweet peppers, or red onions). Make a quick Thai-inspired vinaigrette to go with it.
- As a bowl meal: To make a bowl meal, use rice as the base, top with the beef mixture, and add some fun elements like pickled red onions or a creamy avocado.
- Over cauliflower rice: Serve Beef Larb over riced cauliflower for a low-carb meal.
HOW TO MAKE LARB:
The recipe takes only 30 minutes to prepare!
STEP 1: Begin by “quick pickling” the red onions. This reduces the bitterness and bite. Cut the onions into thin slices.
STEP 2: Saute the onion, garlic, and lemongrass in a skillet until tender. Stir in the chili flakes.
STEP 3: Toss in the ground meat. You can use ground chicken, turkey, beef, pork, or lamb. I’ve used lamb in this case. If you’re new to cooking with lamb, starting with ground lamb is the best way to get started. Handle it as if it were ground beef. In case you were wondering, a 3 oz. A serving of American Lamb is very nutrient-dense, with 23 grams of protein and an excellent source of zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 – all of which help to boost immunity!
STEP 4: Prepare the cucumber, radishes, scallions, and fresh herbs while the ground meat is cooking. I used colorful watermelon radishes in this recipe, but regular radishes also work well and add a nice crunch.
STEP 5: Drain the fat from the browned meat using a strainer (especially if chilling the salad), then add the warm meat to the bowl with the cucumbers, radish, onions, and herbs.
STEP 6: Toss it with fish sauce and lime juice. Adjust the lime juice and heat to taste. Find a happy medium! Larb is generally very tangy due to the lime juice, with a lot of debt owed to the fish sauce. To help balance the flavors, a little brown sugar or honey is added.
STEP 7: To increase the heat, add fresh chili, finely chopped extra for heat, totally optional. Serve the Larb warm, or chill it for later. Either way you will love the flavor!
- Add a splash of fish sauce: A splash or two of fish sauce will enhance the Thai flavor. If you enjoy Thai flavors, you could add a tablespoon or two; add slowly and to taste.
- Adjusting the spiciness: Start with 1 teaspoon of chili sauce and work your way up, going slowly if you’re sensitive to heat. You can also substitute Sriracha® sauce for the chili sauce (Note that a lot of the flavor in this dish does come from the chili sauce). You can also add an extra teaspoon or two of sugar to balance out the heat from the Sambal Oelek (chili sauce).
- Change up the herbs: This meal contains cilantro, mint, and basil; we love all of these herbs in this dish, and they add a unique flavor. That being said, feel free to use whatever you have on hand. One herb, or a combination of two herbs, is preferable to none!
- Substitute chopped eggplant, summer squash, or chayote squash for the zucchini!
IS LARB SERVED HOT OR COLD?
Larb is frequently served warm over cold lettuce wraps, creating a nice texture and temperature contrast!
However, Larb is delicious when served cold! Larb remains in the. Refrigerate for up to 3 days, and serve chilled.
- Larb is typically intensely seasoned – spicy, tangy, salty, all the flavors – so I like to serve it with rice and cool crunchy veggies – cucumber, radish, jicama, lettuce, and so on – to help “mellow” it out.
- If you’re serving the Larb Salad as a main course, pair it with rice.
- If you’re serving the Larb as an appetizer, you can skip the lettuce cups. Alternatively, serve with both!
- The leftover Larb will keep in the fridge for 3 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Larb is typically made with chicken, beef, duck, fish, pork, or mushrooms and is seasoned with fish sauce, lime juice, padaek, roasted ground rice, and fresh herbs. The meat can be served raw or cooked; it is minced and combined with chili, mint, and, if desired, assorted vegetables.
Is larb served either hot or cold? Traditionally, larb is served immediately after it has finished cooking. Having said that, many restaurants serve larb cold or at room temperature in a salad-style dish or in salad wraps. We prefer it served hot, as soon as it’s finished!
This is a flavorful entree that combines spicy, sour, sweet, bitter, and salty flavors in one exotic, delectable mouthful.
Sure, it’s served with raw vegetables and soft green herbs, but few Thais would eat larb on its own the way a Westerner would eat salad – it’s just too spicy. It’s usually served with rice or sticky rice, as well as lettuce and long beans on the side, which help to balance out the heat and round out the meal.