April 8th 2016
Portland springs are the best, bipolar, but I guess that is why they are so exceptional, if you visit right now you would want to live here. No matter the 6-9 months of rain, when spring has sprung its 80 degrees and gorgeously lush, due to the prior rain fall. The Willamette twinkles like diamonds and the locals set up outdoor picnics and find ways to absorb as much vitamin D from the sun as humanly possible, like depraved prisoners let out into the world for the first time in decades. Plus most folks don't have air conditioning, like us, so cooking outside makes things a bit more comfortable. So with this in mind I have a Asian fusion recipe for your future outdoor, entertaining needs or just a simple weeknight dinner.
Larb is a minced meat salad with with roots in Laotian cuisine. A dish that is featured on many Thai menus it covers all the flavor bases; salty, sour, spicy, and a bit sweet. I enjoy larb quite a bit and decided I would make some, I had some left over peanut sauce in the fridge, and was brain storming on how to use it. My kids love chicken satay so I figured marrying the two would get the kids to try a new dish....and use up the super tasty peanut sauce I had in the fridge. I used ground turkey, but this can really be done with any type of ground meat you prefer. I reviewed several recipes for larb, and what I noticed is in westernized recipes they leave out the khao kua which translates to toasted sticky rice, which is then ground up into a fine powder and added to the meat and veg as a binder of sorts. Well I think this makes all the difference in taste, it gives you that nutty, rich, taste, that you can't quite place what it is....this my friend is the secret to the culinary universe. In every cuisine there are tricks of the trade that encapsulate the authenticity and origins of native flavors. The difference between good and great if you ask me. Once you master some techniques and alternative ingredients then you can really begin to get in touch with your inner chef.
You will need:
1/4 Cup sticky rice
this is for your binder (Khao Kua), and what you need to do is toast the rice in a dry pan over medium heat, until it is golden brown, tossing frequently to make sure it doesn't burn. When nice and toasty and golden, place in a food processor and pulse until it is a fine powder.
1 lb ground turkey
1/4 red bell pepper, small dice.
1 golf ball sized shallot, minced.
2 T. fish sauce
pinch of sugar
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
20 fresh mint leaves, chopped.
1/4 of a bunch of cilantro, chopped finely, stems and all.
1/4 tsp. Dry red pepper flakes, I used some I get at the Asian market
1 Jalapeno, minced,seeded if desired, I left a few in.
1 lime cut into wedges for garnish.
12 skewers (soaked in water if they are bamboo)
dipping sauces: I used peanut, nuac cham, and Nong's sauce
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except dipping sauces and lime wedges. Mix well until combined, separate meat mixture in half and make six meat balls out of each half. Take a meatball and press onto skewer into a paddle shape. Broil or grill for five minutes on the first side flip and cook three minutes longer, serve on a platter with sauces, goes exceptionally well with IPA's or Red ales.