Friday, February 5, 2010


Recently, I've been exploring new ways to eat healthy--BIG flavors without the guilt.

If I were one of the "7 Deadly Sins", I, sadly but surely, would be gluttony--I eat, and eat, and eat and I can go on all day with out stopping. I like eating realtively healthy (although I do have a tendancy to indulge), but I'm definitely not willing to sacrifice flavor.

Thus, my new love for larb. It's so amazing how incredibly easy it is to make and how pocket friendly it is! I've been visiting my local Asian market a whole lot more since this discovery.

I'm absolutely obsessed with foods of Southeast Asia. How can you not be infatuated with the sweet, the spicy, the tangy, and the lip licking umame of fish sauce all in one dish?

Larb, (which can also be spelled larp or laarp) is common in Southeast Asian cuisine like Northern Thai or Lao cooking, and its a kind of ground meat salad. I know, I know...ground meat salad? It doesn't sound all that appetizing to all palates but I urge you to give it a try--especially if you have a love for Southeast Asian flavors and want to include some dishes from that region into your healthy eating repertoire.

Here's my version of the recipe (these are rough measurements because I'm a fan of "eyeballing", bad habit, I know!)

1 stem of lemongrass (peel the the outer layers and then cut into 1/4 inch rounds)

2-3 tablespoons of mint leaves, chiffonade

4-5 tablespoons of cilantro, chopped

1inch chunk of fresh ginger root ( I peel it, then smack it with my knife to release some of the juices)

2 large chicken breasts (You can buy pre-ground chicken breast, but I like to ground it myself at home)

1/4 of a read onion finely minced

1/4 cup of good quality organic chicken broth

2 limes juiced

3 kaffir lime leaves (if available, sometimes I can't find these either, so I just leave them out)

5 green thai chilis (chopped they're SPICY so add them to taste)

1 head of either ice berg lettuce or green cabbage (I either make lettuce cups with the ice berg, or I cut the cabbage head into eigths)

1/2 tablespoon of sugar

Fish sauce (to taste)

Thai fried chili paste (optional)
In a pot, add your chicken broth, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, chilis, the juice of one lime, and ginger and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 3 minutes.

(you may fish out the lemon grass, lime leaves, and ginger if you'd like, but i just leave them in)

Add the ground chicken breast. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula break the ground chicken up in the boiling broth.

When the chicken looks relatively cooked stir in the sugar, let simmer on a very low heat.

Prep your lettuce cups or cabbage. (If using iceberg, I gently remove the leaves from the head and place them in very cold water so that they retain thier cup shape, I aslo generally used the inner leaves closer to the core, as they are more crisp and refreshing)

In your serving bowl mix chopped cilantro, mint, and red onion. Add in the chicken mixture that has been simmering for several minutes.

Add fishsauce (I usually put 3-4 tablespoons), lime juice, and chili paste to taste.

Serve with lettuce cups or cabbage and a side of the chili paste for those who love it spicy!

Makes roughly 3 servings.

It's a great "build it yourself" meal, so I usually serve it to my guests family style--larb in a giant bowl and lettuce on the side!

It's so easy and delicious, this will be one you keep in your recipe box for years of healthy eating.

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