Laos Raw Beef Larb
I love steak tartar, and should I ever find myself donning a pair of orange pajamas and manacles on death row it will be part of a very extensive and expensive last meal. The texture of the meat, the fresh flavors unaffected by cooking, and the simplicity of this classic are in my eyes as close to perfection as you can get.
So you can imagine my surprise when cycling along the border of Burma and Laos that I was treated to one of the best I have ever had. 60km on a broken road in searing heat might have enhanced my taste buds but sitting in a small thatched hut with an Akka family enjoying this traditional meal was very special. The additions of galangal and lemon grass were exceptional, but my lack of language made it impossible to get the recipe.
However the very next day I was lucky enough to see this dish being prepared in a small village getting ready for a wedding. A traditional favorite in Northern Laos it was being made on a grand scale by a gaggle of Akka women sat in a circle chopping and gossiping and on close inspection I think this recipe will work. I have since eaten similar dished made with tripe but this recipe should sit a little better at home.
(these ingredients are per person)
- 300 g of best beef tenderloin
- 8 fresh mint Leaves, finely chopped
- 3 slices of galangal, very finely chopped
- 3 slices of ginger, very finely chopped
- 6 coriander leaves and a couple of short stalks, finely chopped
- Juice from half a lime
- a small stalk of lemon grass, sliced and then chopped
- 1 fresh chili, deseeded and well chopped
- 1 small shallot, well chopped
- A glug of good Fish Sauce
- A small glug of padek (if you can find this a little more fish sauce won’t hurt)
- A small glug of sesame oil if you are feeling fancy
1. Take a chunky chopping board and with a heavy knife, dice and then chop the beef until you have a course mince. Should take a good few minutes.
2. Place the beef in a bowl and add the other ingredients. Mix well with a fork until all the ingredients are fully blended and smelling wonderful. Have little taste and season as you like.
3. Serve with some cool sliced cucumber.