Spicy Thai Salad with Minced Pork (Larb) Recipe from Everyday Thai Cooking

The first time I had Thai food was in Thailand.
That seems a little strange to me considering I was 30 years old. (I actually celebrated my 30th in Thailand. Great birthday.) Most people would probably also try a few of the dishes that hail from the country they are about to spend a few weeks exploring, but not me.
It was more of an access issue than anything else. There wasn’t much Thai food in central Kentucky the few years before that, and I also wasn’t an adventurous eater. I was more of a count your calories, eat whole grains and enjoy your fat-free yogurt kind of eater. (I know. I shutter when I think about it, too.) Then we moved to Brazil and there was good food, but no Thai.
So I learned about Thai food, including the infamous Pad Thai, in its home. That is not a bad situation to be in. Although it will leave you constantly comparing every dish you have after that to your original experience. For that reason, even though we took a cooking class while there, I haven’t made much Thai food at home. I play with Pad Thai and curry, but that is about it.
I think that is soon going to change. See, now I have this wonderful cookbook called Everyday Thai Cooking, Quick and Easy Family Style Recipes by Katie Chin. Just flipping through its pages, I feel empowered to bring Thai into my kitchen.
In addition to gorgeous food photography (and scenic photos from Thailand that make me want to go back), the book starts with three sections that I love to see in a cookbook – techniques, ingredients and the basics (all those pastes and sauces that make Thai food so amazing.) Trust me, this section will have you feeling empowered, too.
The book is split into appetizers, soups and salads, entrees based on the meat selection (and vegetarian), followed up by a hefty dessert section. Some things I have on my list include Fragrant Coconut Fish in Banana Leaves, Thai Garlicky Eggplant and Coconut Thai Basil Ice Cream. It’s page after page of both familiar and different Thai recipes that are simply explained for the home cook. 
 
The Spicy Thai Salad with Minced Pork is what caught my eye when I first flipped through the book. It is light and healthy with all the familiar flavors of Thai cuisine. Katie and the publishers graciously gave me permission to share this delicious recipe with you.
The thing I found most interesting about this dish was the roasted rice powder. I’m now going to be making this nutty, slightly crunchy powder to top other dishes. It adds a special touch. You’ll love this recipe. It’s all the tease you’ll need to get your hands on a copy of the book. 

Spicy Thai Salad with Minced Pork (Larb)

©Katie Chin 2013. Reprinted with permission from Tuttle Publishing
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal or for lunch
Preparation time: 20 minutes + cooling time
Cooking time: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon long-grain rice
1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small shallot, finely sliced
1 teaspoon minced lemongrass
1 fresh hot red or green chili, preferably Thai (deseeded if you prefer less heat)
½ lb (250 g) ground pork
3 tablespoons Basic Chicken Stock or store-bought
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon palm or brown sugar
4 cups (350 g) mixed baby greens
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
½ cup (52 g) peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
12–14 fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander leaves (cilantro)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Thai or Italian basil
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts
Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
Lime wedges
Make the roasted rice powder: Heat the rice in a small dry skillet over medium heat, stirring and tossing for 3–4 minutes, until it turns golden brown. Transfer to a small plate and allow to cool. Use a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and grind the rice into a coarse powder.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high heat. Add garlic, shallots, lemongrass, and chili; stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pork and stir-fry, while breaking it up with a wooden spoon until cooked through, about 5–6 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, fish sauce, lime juice, and palm sugar and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rice powder, baby greens, mint leaves, fresh coriander leaves, basil, and red onions. Add the warm pork mixture and toss with the greens. Sprinkle crushed peanuts on top. Garnish with fresh coriander and mint leaves. Serve immediately with lime wedges.
COOK’S NOTE: Feel free to substitute the fish sauce with soy sauce, the pork with soy protein crumbles and the chicken stock with vegetable stock for a vegetarian version of this salad.
Disclosure:  This book was sent to me for review purposes. I was not required to post about it and I received no compensation for doing so.

Spicy Pickled Long Beans Recipe

 

I see them on every menu. On the appetizer page for restaurants that proudly serve housemade specialties. On the snack menus of every pub that serves craft beer. And as a half price small plate at happy hour.

Pickled vegetables.

In case you missed it, they are all the rage. I have to say that I’m fully embracing the trend. I absolutely love pickled foods.

I finally tried pickled ginger a few weeks ago because I had a great cookbook to review. But experimenting with other pickled veggies is something I just couldn’t seem to get around to.

I’d buy a head of cauliflower or some carrots and I’d think — I should try pickling those. It happened over and over again and each time I’d end up using the vegetables for something else.

It wasn’t until I picked up a pound of long beans from the Farmer’s Market that I finally found my motivation to get pickling.

I associate long beans with Asian food (as I think most others do, too). More specifically, I associate them with Thai food because the first time I ever used them was in the green papaya salad we made while taking a cooking class in Chiang Mai.

I’m not that big of a fan of green beans, and since long beans are similar, I haven’t branched out to buy any since that class.

But as you know, I’ve been jumping in head first with buying new and different ingredients in the East Bay. So after seeing piles and piles of them on tables at the market for the outrageous price of $1 per pound, I grabbed some.

That was sarcasm, by the way. There are few vegetables that are not worth $1 per pound to me. You wave a sign saying that over produce and I’ll buy just about anything.

So after the long beans sat in the fridge for a few days a familiar thought popped in my head — I should pickle those. This time I followed through.

I am so glad I did. They turned out so well! We finished an entire jar the second I opened them! Knowing the season is quickly coming to an end, I bought 3 pounds last Friday to make a few more jars to enjoy later in the year.

I used a modified version of Marisa McClellan’s (Food in Jars) recipe that was featured on Serious Eats. She recommends water bath processing the beans to soften their slightly tough exterior. The texture was perfect and I love that this makes them more shelf stable as well.

I modified the recipe by using ginger and a Thai chile as seasoning. The Thai chile was what made them. They were spicy and tangy at the same time. I knew I would want smaller pieces of the bean so I went ahead and cut them into small pieces before I packed them.

We’ve eaten them straight out of the jar and I’ve also been chopping them up to eat over Asian noodle dishes. It’s going to take some serious self control not to finish all the jars in a few weeks!

Spicy Pickled Long Beans

Modified from Pickled Chinese Long Beans by Marisa McClellan

Makes: 2 pint jars

1 lb. Chinese long beans (green or purple), cut into 2 to 3 inch pieces
4 cloves garlic, peeled
4, ¼ to ½  inch pieces fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 Thai chiles
2 cups distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cups water
2 tbsp pickling salt

Pack the long beans into each of two sterilized pint jars. Add two cloves of garlic, two pieces of ginger, and ½ teaspoon of peppercorns to each jar. Cut a slit in the side of each of the chiles and place one in each jar.

Bring the vinegar, water and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Pour half of the hot brine into each of the jars, leaving ½ inch headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean, damp towel. Seal with a new lid and a band. Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove from the water bath and set jars on a cooling rack. After one hour, check to make sure the jars have sealed. Let rest for 12 hours before labeling and storing. Let sit for at least 2 weeks before eating.

 

If you need help with safe canning practices, please check out the resources from National Center for Home Food Preservation at the University of Georgia.

Shrimp and Asparagus with Coconut Sticky Rice

I didn’t know sticky rice existed until 2009. Even after I discovered it in Thailand, we got back to Kentucky and I couldn’t find it anywhere. When I did finally locate it, first in Chicago, then eventually in Lexington, I went a little overboard. Looking back I think I was making up for lost time since I spent the majority of my life without it.
There are two large bags of white sticky rice sitting in my pantry accompanied by a small bag of purple sticky rice.  My new found access has taught me that it takes two people a long time to use up that much rice.
So my thought process in meal planning tends to be – what can I make that would go with sticky rice?
This time I threw together a little stir fry using up some asparagus from the garden, some cabbage and shrimp. I recently learned that you can freeze lemongrass so I was able to preserve my last purchase before it went bad. That went into the mix as well. I love coconut sticky rice, and it is easy to get the flavor by stirring in a small amount of coconut milk before serving. 
This dinner could not be easier. Soak your rice the night before, and then let it steam while you chop everything and toss it in the wok. A bamboo steamer is ideal, but a metal vegetable steamer works fine too.

Shrimp and Asparagus with Coconut Sticky Rice

1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch piece lemongrass, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp dark sesame oil
½ lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
10 to 15 shrimp, cleaned
2 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
1 ½ cups sticky rice, steamed
3 tbsp coconut milk
Dried, unsweetened coconut for garnish
In a wok, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, lemongrass, and ginger. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the sesame oil. Add the asparagus and cook 1 to 2 minutes more, or until the pieces begin to turn bright green. Add the shrimp and continue to cook.
When the shrimp are almost opaque add the cabbage and cook just until it wilts slightly. Add the soy sauce and toss to coat the vegetables and shrimp. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds and chives. Set aside.
Gently stir the coconut milk in to the rice and divide into 2 or 3 servings. Sprinkle with the dried coconut. Serve with the shrimp and vegetables on the side. Serves 2 to 3 people.

Do you use sticky rice? I’d love to have more ideas for cooking with it. There is still a bag waiting to be used in my pantry!