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Jun 23, 2007 09:42 AM

Looking for Larb and/or Hai Lum recipes

I've about got my phad thai and red curry recipes down pat, and am read looking for good larb and hai lum recipes. I'd love your favorites!

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  1. I think that larb is more Laotian, really, but here is a good recipe for chicken lahb from my Thai cooking teacher:

    edit: Note, I have seen it spelled larb, lahb, and laab.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Louise

      ohhhh... thanks a million for the recipe, the correct spelling and the etymology! I can't wait to try this out!

      1. re: Louise

        You're absolutely correct. Larb is a traditional Laotian dish that's not only eaten in Laos, but also in Thailand where there is a huge population of Laotians who live there.

        And yes, Larb is sometimes spelled laab or laap, etc...

      2. My laab:

        Take rough ground beef and pork, break up in a large pot of boiling water and drain while still just a bit pink--just takes a minute or two. Mix fish sauce and lime juice to taste (quite a bit of both) and pour over the meat (which will be largely fatless and dry from its own residual heat). Mix in torn mint, chopped cilantro, finely slivered ginger, chopped hot chilis to taste, finely diced red or spring onion. Toast a handful of uncooked rice kernels until golden, grind, add a couple of Tbsp. Let the flavors meld together for a couple of hours. When serving, top with more of the ground toasted rice, thinly diagonally sliced green onion, and sliced red chili. Serve with sitcky rice, different leaves from the forest and yard long beans if you're in Laos; or with plain white Japanese rice, a variety of lettuces and cabbage, and quickly blanched young green beans if not. I make laab maybe 3x a month. Love it.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          The large assortment of green vegetables on the side are very important, according to my boss who is Laotian.

          Also, there is disagreement as to when to add the toasted ground rice. You may prefer to let it sit as in Sam's recipe, or you may prefer to add it just before serving, as I learned. A little fickleness is good in the kitchen, do what tastes best to you.

          1. re: Louise

            Louise, you're completely right. While I suggested incorporating ahead of time and sprinkling on top at serving, if I had to do one or the other, it would be on top at serving. I prefer both, however.

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Sam, I made laab last night for first time...yay! It was SO excellent and the recipe I used was very similar to yours (link below, Thai mother & daughter video)...that toasted raw rice ground up really adds a nutty flavor to the dish! I had some ground pork and beef to use up and didn't want to run to the store but had all the other ingredients (well, except for cabbage but I had kale so chopped it up and added it to the spicy meat)...we really loved it! Her video shows it served in a cabbage bowl.


          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Oh wow! thank you! thank you! I can't wait to try it. In your opinion, is chicken also an acceptable meat to use?

            (and btw, Sam, I love your posts. They are always so informative and entertaining!)

            1. re: Tehama

              Chicken is fine as well. Thank you for the nice comments.

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                (((SAM))) still missing you! Rest in blissful peace!

              2. re: Tehama

                Realizing this is a really old post, but wanted to add that my husband's family is Thai/Chinese (Chinese descent, but all born/raised in Thailand) and own a Thai restaurant. They always make their Larb with ground chicken (Larb Gai?) I don't know if it's because of the Chinese background or if it's particular to Thai Buddhists but they don't eat beef for religious beliefs. And the toasted rice right at the end is a must.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Hi Tehama,
                I google'd 'hai lum' and I got a menu from a restaurant in NY which serves it.


                From the description, it sounds to me like "gwaytiaw kua gai". That's wide rice noodles stir fried with pickled turnip, egg, soy sauce & scallions. Does that sound familiar? I'm not sure why they call it 'Hai Lum'. Perhaps this noodle dish originates from Hai Lum (Thais call Hainan island Hai Lum). I'll have to ask the Chinese noodle vendor I eat at if she knows.

                Here's some pictures:

                Does that look right? Let me know if so, I can teach you how to make khua gai. It's pretty easy.

                1. re: cee

                  Cee, you are a dear! Thank you so much for all the good info and the photos. Honestly, the Hai Lum I had at Lemongrass did not look like that photos at all (and I don't remember there being turnips in there, either, come to think about it) but I am just going to have to make a point to go back there very soon (it is a little bit of a trek to get there) and ask specifically what is in the dish so I can report back.

                  On another note, I am always grateful for new recipes, so if you have a khua gai recipe that is not too much trouble for you to post, I would love to see it.

                  Many thanks to you and everyone else!

                  1. re: Tehama

                    The pickled turnips don't really look like turnips... They're small flat brown pieces. Shreds even.

                    You could ask the restaurant what the dish is called in Thai, and, even better, take a photograph of it when it arrives at the table and post it here.

                    To make Gwaytiaw Khua Gai:
                    Start with a large handful of fresh wide rice noodles (sen yay in Thai, chow fun in Cantonese). Separate them from each other and set aside.
                    Chop one scallion into rounds, and set aside. Smash and chop about a small handful of garlic and set aside. Chop into large chunks, not little pieces -- don't dice.

                    Fry the garlic in about 2 table of oil on a very hot pan. Stir until just started to turn brown, right around the time that it loses it's shine. Add the noodles. Stir to separate, but don't keep stirring. You want them to get kinda... not burned... but hmm.. fried? Stir a bit so it cooks evenly and they don't stick. Watch that your garlic doesn't burn too.

                    Add about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of Healthy Boy soy sauce, and another ~1 tablespoon Healthy Boy light soy sauce or Thai fish sauce (Squid brand is good). Then add a teaspoon or so of sugar. Mix well.

                    Push your noodles aside and add a touch more oil. Crack an egg on top of the oil and stir until scrambled, then wait until solid. Toss the noodles on top and mix well to break up the egg.

                    Top with a good amount of ground white pepper and your scallions. Remove from heat and serve with Thai Sri Racha chili sauce. You can serve it on lettuce if you want.

                    If you want more recipes, I have about 30 so far on my site with photos. This one isn't up yet tho.


                    1. re: cee

                      Wow! Wow! Wow! Thanks a million. I cannot wait to try your recipes an suggestions.

                      Great idea about the photo.... do I have to have a website to upload it to (like you do) or is there a way to upload pictures to Chowhound?

                      Hope you have a great day!

              2. Sam, I just wanted to tell you thank you! I have made your laab on several occasions, and again this afternoon. It is absolutely scrumptious and I appreciate your help so much.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Tehama

                  That's great (I just saw this thread again). One note: A friend asked me to prepare laab for which she purchased the ingredients. Without thinking I gave her amounts of beef, pork, and tripe to get. It didn't turn out quite as good as usual - because I'd forgotten to tell her that I always buy lean beef and pork and then have it ground once (using the largest setting). I also forgot to mention above that a get a bit of tripe, cut into a fine dice and simmer for quite awhile to add to the meats.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    ooops...I just made it too! posted further up in this thread! Great stuff!

                2. This recipe is off the cuff - I never do it the same twice. Depends on what I can get or what's on hand.

                  I buy a couple packs of ground pork (likely 1 pound and a half total), and brown it....I like a little texture in the meat. Boiled is boring. You can also use chicken, turkey or lamb in a pinch.
                  Mince one large or two medium shallots (a small red onion will also suffice), two mediumish green or red chilies and a few cloves garlic. If you can get them, use one whole stalk lemongrass (pound both sides with the back of the knife and them chop finely.) Also, about 6 curry leaves will add significant flavor.
                  I also freeze my ginger and just grate it when I need it on a microplane...about 1/2 inch will do.

                  Saute the shallots, ginger, chilies, curry leaves and lemongrass in non-stick pan about 5 minutes, then add the pork. When it's broken up and the moisture is evaporated, crank up the heat to brown the meat a bit. You just want color, not desication.
                  Add the garlic at the end, saute another 2 minutes then take the pan off the heat.
                  Here's the important part, the seasoning. Add to taste and experiment with quantities to see how spicy you like it:
                  1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
                  1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp Cane Vinegar (Sukang Masssim)
                  1 to 1-1/2 Tbsp Dark Soya or Ponzu (my preference)
                  1 Tbsp Sriracha
                  1 Tbsp Lea & Perrins
                  Zest of one Lime and juice of two.

                  The most important part is to let this sit, preferably 'til the next day to let the flavors blend.

                  I use finely shredded cabbage, carrot and dikon for garnish along with finely chopped mint, basil and usually unsalted roasted peanuts (removed from the shell, obviously, and chopped) for crunch.

                  You can go the lettuce leaf wrapping route, but this also just goes great as a topping for a simple salad of head lettuce and arugula. The warm, spciy prok over a cold salad is heavenly.

                  This is a great dish, and I love playing around with it every time. It's my wife's favourite meal for sure...and she fought me for weeks before she'd let me make it the first time.

                  Have fun playing around.

                  14 Replies
                  1. re: blueridgeguy


                    curry leaves and lea and perrins, esp.

                    no sweetener at all? brown sugar/jaggery?

                    1. re: alkapal

                      I like the little extra kick from the tamarind...which I suppose you could just add instead or the Worcs.
                      The curry leaves are must for me...I would really miss that undertone.
                      As for sweeteners, I think the combination of cane vinegar, Worcs and ponzu makes it sweet/tangy enough.

                    2. re: blueridgeguy

                      Sriracha is made from garlic, chili peppers, and vinegar- which are three ingredients you are already including in your recipe- two of which are fresh. Same issue with using ponzu AND fresh lime juice...You're sure using a lot of bottled sauces.

                      1. re: Silverjay

                        The sriracha is for an exrta layer of heat...But I like the texture of the fresh ingredients in there, too.
                        Ponzu has more depth than plain soya, but fresh lime at the end also adds another layer.
                        The cane vinegar is unlike anything I've had really makes a difference in the balance and I think makes adding any other sweetener superfluous.
                        I know that it seems like alot of duplication, but trust me, the flavor turns out more mellow and balanced.
                        You could also try both - just the sauces, then just the fresh and see what difference it makes.

                        1. re: blueridgeguy

                          Thanks, but while I like sriracha and ponzu for dipping stuff, I would never use them to cook a dish with. To make it spicy, I buy a mix of grounded dried roasted chilis that are imported from Thailand. Wow, distinct and achingly spicy if you use too much. My recipe is pretty much here- with occasional slight variations- . I did a cooking class in Laos last year and this is pretty close to what we made. It's similar to Sam Fujisaka's above.

                          For your recipe, you might want to add toasted rice powder at the end. It gives the dish a little bit of a nuttiness and I think it is one of the must-haves to make it distinctly larb. You can make it easily enough at home but you can also buy it at some Asian grocery stores.

                          ...I'm making turkey larb tonight actually!

                          1. re: Silverjay

                            Nice recipe...I wil try it next time, but I might have to do some serious hunting around here for roasted rice powder or roasted bird's eye chilli. Sounds painful. I like heat, but we're getting into exponentially hot territory!

                            The sriracha and ponzu, I add off the heat and let the mixture sit, usually.

                            In Toronto, ingredients are either non-existent or alot of effort to acquire, so I've been doing what I can with what I have.

                            1. re: blueridgeguy

                              it is dead easy to make the toasted rice. toast rice, cool, then whizz in blender or pound in mortar. done!


                          2. re: blueridgeguy

                            i've never had cane vinegar (to my knowledge). so, it is sweet-ish?

                            1. re: alkapal

                              It's sweetish and milder than white vinegar...kind of akin to rice wine vinegar. Mine came from the Phillipines and is called DATU PUTI.

                        2. re: blueridgeguy

                          Not completely off topic..... what if you added Laarb ingrediants and made cabbage rolls?

                          Interesting fusion cooking... or a complete failure. (likely the latter)... any ideas on what the sauce would be? Perhaps a thai curry?

                          I think I start with getting the Laarb right first.... but if any one wants to steal the idea and report back I think it could be interesting - or not of course.

                          1. re: sparky403

                            What is wrong with Romaine leaves? Nice and fresh!

                            1. re: sparky403

                              You could probably stuff larb into rice paper and make like spring rolls- fried or maybe Vietnamese style raw.

                              I think cabbage would be too watery and steaming or boiling larb ingredients would get away from the core of what it really is- which is a fresh, herbal meat salad.

                              1. re: Silverjay

                                mmmm….fried rice paper larb rolls -- sound like a treat!

                                1. re: Silverjay

                                  Just finished off my leftover turkey larb from last night.

                                  I used ground Butterball turkey I bought at Costco. I've made chicken, pork, cooked beef, raw beef, tilapia, and shrimp larb and the consistency of the ground turkey from Butterball comes out the best for this dish. It tastes good too.

                                  I cooked the meat on the stove. I used a non-stick wok. Try not to use oil with this dish. Also, I drained the liquid a couple of times. The meat should be relatively dry. Added fish sauce and mixed in my Thai dried pepper. For a bit of sweetness, I used palm sugar- which is available at Asian markets. It's got a funky caramelized taste. When finished, I let the meat sit a bit. I hate steaming hot larb.

                                  Chopped up one whole bunch of cilantro, as well as a nice amount of fresh mint, and cut up several shallots. I didn't have chili peppers so I chopped up fresh jalepenos instead. Turkey and jalepenos, blasphemous I know...Anyway, this was my fresh herbal medley.

                                  When the meat had cooled a bit, I squeezed on some fresh lime juice and then sprinkled on the toasted rice powder. MIx well. And then combine with the herb medley. Mixed it up, and served and ate. Great.

                                  I set aside a portion of the herbs and a portion of the meat for lunch today. I packed them separately and then mixed them up right before I ate. Again, so awesome.