When I was eighteen, I spent my gap year travelling around south east Asia (cue eye roll) and came across larb – also spelt larp or laab – in Laos. I had never heard of it before but, as it was a regional speciality, I ordered it and absolutely ADORED it. Laab is a kind of meat salad usually made with minced pork, which is packed full of fresh, zingy flavour, thanks to lots of fresh lime juice, shallots, chilli and fresh mint. Those who know me will know that I’m a sucker for a bit of zing so I couldn’t wait to recreate it at home. My version of larb may or may not be 100% traditional – many recipes add toasted rice for extra nuttiness, some add lemon grass and many don’t use garlic – but this is how I make mine. It’s super acidic, fresh and delicious and, like all my recipes, really easy to make.
I always serve mine with white rice as that’s how it was served in Laos and it tastes best (in my opinion). But if you want to be healthier, it would also work with brown rice or some people like to go super healthy with it and serve it in little gem lettuce cups…but that’s a no from me hun.
Harissa is a magical ingredient and a very useful thing to always have in the cupboard because it’s such a quick and easy way to impart a load of flavour to meat, fish or veg without the need for lots of other ingredients.
I especially love harissa with salmon – just spread it over salmon fillets, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then either bake in the oven (for around 12-15 mins on 180) or put under the grill (for 10 mins on high), then squeeze over some lemon juice once cooked. It’s a really simple but very effective way to cook salmon, which I often serve with a tabbouleh or couscous salad in summer but this time I had the idea to have it in a bit of a kebab-style wrap.