Filed under: food
Dinner tonight is something new: Laab nuea, a Thai beef salad made from ground sirloin, fish sauce, lime and spices. Oh, and ground toasted rice. It’s…um…kinda tasty, but definitely Not The Standard Thing. Fish sauce is weird stuff. It’s made from salted fish left to rot in the sun, then after kinda, um…sitting there for a year in a barrel, the juices are skimmed off and bottled. Sounds gross, right? It is kind of. It’s not the sort of thing you’d…y’know…drink a glass of. (BLECH!) or even use with a heavy hand, but a bit in a dish is interesting and adds a certain dimension of flavor that is indefinable, if you don’t know what you’re tasting.
So Laab Nuea is this ground sirloin, or other really lean ground beef, that you brown up with the fish sauce and some lime juice and onion. It kinda smells sorta stinky when it’s cooking. I was deeply skeptical as it was cooking because I don’t care for food that stinks. Still, I plowed on because it was all I had for supper. So after the meat was cooked, I mixed in chopped cilantro and mint, some ground toasted rice (now there’s a sleeper of a seasoning!) dried ground ginger, and red pepper flakes. It turned out surprisingly tasty! I think the citrusy cilantro and the brightness of the mint toned down the strangeness of the fish sauce and turned it all into something that, while salty, will taste pretty good with the bland sticky rice and crisp raw veggies.
We’ll see how it goes down with the heathens and Himself. He pretty much likes anything I fix, or at least he says he does and who’s going to cross me when it’s That Time of the Month? No one, that’s who.
1 lb Ground beef
1/4 Cup Lime juice
2 Tbs Fish sauce
1/2 tsp Galangal powder (kha pon)
- or -
1/2 Tbs Fresh grated ginger
6 Shallots, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Green onions, chopped
2 Tbs Cilantro leaves, chopped
2 Tbs Ground roasted rice*
1 tsp Thai red chili pepper, ground (prik khee no pon)
- or -
1 tsp Cayenne pepper
15 Mint leaves
Blend the lime juice, fish sauce, galangal powder and shallots together with the ground beef. In a hot skillet or wok, brown the meat mixture until cooked through.
Remove from heat; add the chopped green onion, cilantro leaves and ground roasted rice to the meat mixture. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
Divide the meat mixutre into serving portions. Spoon the ground pepper on the side of the plate if desired; garnish the plates with the mint leaves.
Optional: Accompany the salad with a selection of raw vegetables, such as long beans, green beans, sliced cabbage, sliced carrots, chopped iceberg lettuce, chopped bok choy/napa cabbage, basil leaves, or spinach.
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