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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Larb Neua - traditional lao beef salad

It's funny but the trigger that makes me publish a recipe is really the quality of the photo that will illustrate my recipe. Lione took yesterday this wonderful photo of my Larb, and therefore I am ready to publish it. This is a larb, that is, the traditional lao beef salad. The Thai also cook Larb, their own way, replacing Pah Dek which is really the lao signature, by Nuoc Mam.
I have found a very interesting page about Pah Dek on the Web : Lao Plah Dek
My recipe of the Larb is not the most orthodox, but this is is my experience after having tastes hundreds of different varieties of Larb.

This dish is often served along with a beef broth, greens and sticky rice (Khao Niao).

Since I was in Vientiane last week, I want mention my favorite restaurant in town. The broth that accompanies this dish is called Keng Khruang Nai (literally, "soup of stuff from the inside"). The Ban Kham restaurant which lies by the Mekong River side in Vientiane, if you ask me, is simply the best lao restaurant in Vientiane, and propose a very tasteful version of that broth. The restaurant prices are high for the country (a meal for 4 people costs 30 USD), but frankly it's worth it.

  • 300gr of beef (sirloin, tenderloin or any tender part of the beef)
  • a stalk of lemon grass
  • three shallots
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • two or three tbsp of toasted rice powder (very common ingredient that you need to preprare on your own. Simply grill without oil some glutinous rice in a stove, and when the rice seed turns golden-brown, use a blender or a mortar to obtain a nice brown powder).
  • one or two red chilis
  • three slices of chopped galanga
  • a dozen mint leaves
  • three minced young onions
  • 5 leaves of saw teeth coriander (ngo gai)
  • 3 branch of coriander
  • 2 tbsp of lime juice
  • 2 tbsp of Pah Dek or if you don't have any, Nuoc Mam
For the beef broth
  • 500 gr beef brisket
  • 300gr of assorted beef entrails
  • one beef's bone marrow
  • one onion, cut into quarters
  • 5 leaves of Phak Yleuth (betel leaves)
  • three young ginger slices
  • salt, pepper, nuoc mam
For service
Herbs are an essential element of the recipe
  • young eggplant (as shown)
  • a sliced cucumber
  • Lao mustard greens (phak gaht). There are not in France, but curiously, what is the closest are the tops of radishes (the leaf of red radish). These leaves are rather bitter and little de
  • Salad for decoration
  1. Boil 2 liters of water in a pot. Once the water is boiling add the meat cut in pieces,marrow and entrails.
  2. Boil vigourously for ten minutes and discard this first broth.
  3. Put water in the pot, add the meat, marrow and entails bring to boil
  4. Add onion, slices of ginger, salt, pepper and nuoc mam.
  5. Allow to simmer on low heat for 2 hours.
  6. After the broth is done, add phak Yleuth, minced young onions, coriander leaves and allow to rest.
  7. Slice the chilli, two shallots and garlic and brown in a small pan. Once the shallots and garlic have turned brown, put them in a mortar and crush until you obtain a brown paste.
  8. Thinly chop the beef with a knife(a blender is really not appropriate here). In a bowl, place the beef, the chili and shallot paste, the chopped galanga, season with salt, pepper and 2 tbsp Pa Dek (or Nuoc Mam).
  9. Chop thinly the lemongrass, and mix with beef. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile coarsely chop the young onions, mint, coriander and saw teeth coriander.
  11. Wash and cut the eggplants and cucumbers. It is very easy to quickly decorate the vegetables with a knife.
  12. Ten minutes before serving, mix the chopped herbs and the meat, lemon juice and add a small ladle of broth. Mix well and adjust seasoning.
  13. Serve with the broth and vegetables.
NB: In Asia, Larb is often served slightly cooked, mainly because of basic rules of hygiene in these country. In Europe or in the States, we don't have this problem and crude meat slightly cooked by lome juice and broth is tastier. However, if you still want to cook the meat, heat a frying pan, and when hot, add the marinated meat without oil, stirring constantly.

Larb is like a national dish in Laos, and is often eaten by the numerous river side sala (terrace) at sunset. A few beers, Tam Mak Khung (papaya salad) and Larb will nicely start the evening.


  1. Please update more Kha =)

    I love reading your recipes and commentary !

    - Amy

  2. Thanks for your return. I've been a little bit lazy to translate my recipes in english, but since I have at least one reader, ok, just for you, I'll translate a new one tonight.

  3. It's too bad about phak gaht. We planted some and it just keeps coming up from seeds that drop onto the soil. You have more than one reader, ;-)

  4. Thanks for the recipe. Now i have designs to make of this & I am sure my mom would definitely love it. Nice shearing.
    Cheap kitchens

  5. Thank you for the return. I have been a bit lazy to turn my recipes in English but I at least one reader, OK, a new translation, since this night just for you.
    Ladies Clothes