My husband and I love exploring Queens, which is the place to go for Thai food. I always order the larb or Thai beef salad—a pungent meat-based salad and one of the most famous dishes of Laos. The best versions have a good balance of heat (from the chile) and tang (from the lime and fish sauce). Typically, toasted rice powder binds the dish and adds a nutty flavor. It’s easy to make at home, but I prefer to use roasted cashews instead. Chicken or pork can stand in for the beef.–Mindy Fox
LC Oh Nuts! Note
Ever have your heart set on a recipe only to exclaim “Oh nuts!” midway through when you realized you lacked an essential ingredient or three? Fortunately, as the author notes above, there’s a little leeway with the ingredients in this Thai beef recipe. Like, for example, swapping cashews for peanuts. Whew.
Thai Beef Salad | Larb
- Quick Glance
- 45 M
- 45 M
- Serves 4
- 1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds (optional)
- 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
- 9 ounces green cabbage, cored and very thinly shredded (4 cups)
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound lean ground beef (or substitute pork or chicken)
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup very thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped salted, roasted cashews
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 medium serrano chile, very thinly sliced and, if desired, seeded
- 1. If using coriander seeds, place them in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast them, shaking the skillet back and forth, until quite fragrant, about 6 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a plate to cool. Dump the seeds into a mini food processor or spice grinder and coarsely grind them, or crush them with the flat side of a chef’s knife. Transfer the pulverized seeds to a small bowl.
- 2. Bring a small saucepan of salted water to a boil. Dump in the green beans and cook for 1 minute. Drain and run under cold water to cool. Pat the beans dry, then very thinly slice the beans crosswise into small rounds (or, for a somewhat fancier schmancier presentation, halve the beans lengthwise into long slivers), and transfer the beans to a large bowl. Add the cabbage and 1 tablespoon cilantro and toss to combine.
- 3. In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, 2 tablespoons lime juice, garlic, and sugar.
- 4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add the beef (or pork or chicken) and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up the chunks of meat until it’s cooked through, about 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro, the fish sauce mixture, the onion, scallions, cashews, basil, mint, cayenne, and half the sliced chile and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
- 5. To the cabbage mixture, add the remaining tablespoon lime juice, the remaining tablespoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss to combine.
- 6. Divide the cabbage mixture among 4 plates and top with the meat mixture. Sprinkle with the basil leaves and the remaining chile and coriander seeds, if using. Instruct guests to eat the Thai beef salad with their hands. (Although you could offer a fork and it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.)