Larb is hailed as the national dish of Laos. Traditionally the salad starts with extremely finely chopped lean meat or fish and is seasoned with lime juice, chiles, fish sauce, and toasted ground rice. This recipe calls for ground lamb, a fattier protein than what’s usually used, and subs ground peanuts as a nod to the texture of the rice.
Ingredients: 1/2 bunch cilantro, stems and leaves separated, stems coarsely chopped, plus sprigs for serving,Cooked white rice, Bibb lettuce leaves, sliced cucumber, lime wedges, and mint sprigs (for serving),1 1/2 teaspoons demerara sugar or dark brown sugar,1 tablespoon (or more) fish sauce,4 garlic cloves,1 pound ground lamb (at least 10% fat),1 lemongrass stalk,3 tablespoons fresh lime juice,1/2 cup salted, roasted peanuts,1 large shallot, coarsely chopped,4 red Thai chiles, divided,2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Instructions: Remove tough outer layers from lemongrass, cut 4″ piece from bulb end, thinly slice, save remaining lemongrass for another use. Pulse lemongrass and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add cilantro stems (reserve leaves for another use), shallot, and 1–2 Thai chiles, depending on how hot you like it, and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside. Pulse peanuts in food processor until coarsely ground and transfer to a small bowl; set aside. Thinly slice remaining chiles; set aside for serving.,Whisk lime juice, fish sauce, and demerara sugar in a small bowl; set lime dressing aside.,Heat oil in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high. Add lamb to skillet and press into a single flat layer with a flexible spatula. Cook, undisturbed, until underside is browned and crisp around the edges, 5–7 minutes. Use spatula to break patty into smaller pieces and turn. Cook pieces on the other side until edges are crisp and meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer lamb to a medium bowl with a slotted spoon, then use spoon to break up meat into small pieces.,Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. fat from skillet and set skillet over medium heat. Cook lemongrass mixture, stirring often, until fragrant and starting to stick to skillet, about 3 minutes. Add reserved lime dressing and peanuts and return reserved lamb to skillet. Toss until meat is coated. Remove from heat and season with more fish sauce, if desired.,Serve larb with rice, lettuce, cucumber, limes, mint sprigs, cilantro sprigs, and reserved chiles for making lettuce cups.