Larb: How To Make Thai Larb

Larb is kind of like som tam’s meat sibling; they’re made from various ingredients. But, they go together exceptionally well. It’s a straightforward Thai Isaan food dish, it’s easy to make, and it’s a genius ingredient combination. One of the best flavor combinations is a larb spoon accompanied by a ball of fresh sticky rice. 

The larb of northern Thailand— larb Lanna — is very different from the larb of the globally more popular Lao style. The Tai Nyuan / Khon Muang (Northern Thai people) northern Thai larb does not contain fish sauce and is not sour, as there is no use of lime juice or another souring agent.

Alternatively, the Northern Thai variety uses a mixture of dried spices as flavoring and seasoning. These include ingredients such as cumin, cloves, long pepper, star anise, prickly ash seeds, and cinnamon, among others, originating from northern Thailand’s Lanna Kingdom location on one of China’s spice routes.

Thai Larb

  • Author: Romae Chanice Marquez
  • Recipe Category: Main Dish / Appetizer
  • Cuisine: Thai

Larb is a Thai salad, but it’s not a salad of vegetables. It’s a salad of meat. Pounded pork is perfectly seasoned with fish sauce, chili flakes, lime juice, and toasted sticky rice to give it some crunchy texture, and a great selection of fresh herbs to bring it all together.

The whole preparation and cooking time is for 40 minutes. This recipe is suitable for at least five people. 

Thai Larb

Recreate this simple recipe of Thai Larb. Photo credits to: @thedefineddish.

Thai Larb Ingredients

  • 3 lb of ground chicken or ground pork
  • 6 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons of sticky rice
  • 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • Juice of 4 limes
  • Dried red chili flakes, to taste
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 25 leaves of fresh mint

Thai Larb Instructions

Step 1: In a dry skillet, toast the rice for about 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat. Stir frequently so that the rice is light brown rather than brown. Let stand for a few minutes and blend to obtain a toasted rice powder in a food processor.

Step 2: Saute the chicken over medium heat or until tender, around 15 to 20 minutes, in a separate large skillet. If required, apply a few tablespoons of water to prevent the chicken from sticking or burning.

Step 3: Turn off the heat, then add the shallots, scallions, lime juice, and fish sauce.

Step 4: Mix all together. Add the powder of toasted rice and mix again.

Step 5: Add the red chili flakes and blend in the leaves of mint and cilantro.

Step 6: Serve with moist, sticky rice or raw vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, or cucumbers.

Thai Larb Additional Information

  • Per serving has 171 calories, 11 g of carbohydrates, 2 g of fat, and 25 g of protein. 
  • If you visit Thailand, the toasted sticky rice powder is one of the most significant differences that you will find in the Thai larb recipe. The sticky rice is slightly toasted over a skillet/wok until golden brown and ground or pounded into a coarse powder.
  • Another essential ingredient should not be skipped, as the toasted sticky rice not only adds extra flavor and texture to the salad but also serves as an ingredient to remove moisture and liquid from the ground meat.
  • Prep/cook time is around 40 minutes.
  • Serves 5.

About Thai Larb Recipe

In general, many Thai and Southeast Asian dishes, such as Vietnamese summer rolls, use fresh herbs such as mint or cilantro. They are an essential part of the larb. Lime juice, fish sauce, and dried chili pepper are flavored in the salad.

But, the most essential ingredient is possibly khao khua. Khao khua is sticky rice finely ground and toasted. It allows the thickening of the juice that comes from the meat. It will also tie together all the ingredients and provide the salad with some crunchiness.


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Featured Image: @iamsaeng / Instagram, @rebirthdna / Instagram