Laarb Recipe

Season hand-cut lamb loin with an aromatic, nuanced toasted seasoning paste, then serve with sesame crackers, showered with fresh herbs, pine nuts and fried shallots in this Thai salad.
Photo by Farideh Sadeghin

Serves 4 to 6 
Prep time: 30 minutes 
Total time: 3 ½ hours 


for the laarb paste:
2 slivers from one piece galangal
6 dried Thai chilies 
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole star anise
1 bay leaf
1 whole cardamom pod
1 whole clove
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 Indian Long Pepper (Dili)
1 piece nutmeg
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
¼ cup|60 ml vegetable oil
1 cup|250 ml fish sauce
1 cup|220 grams palm sugar 

for the laarb:
½ cup|75 grams pine nuts  
1 small shallot, finely diced              
¼ cup|250 ml olive oil         
1 to 2 tablespoons laarb paste, to taste                                                 
2 tablespoons fried shallots, plus more for garnish 
1 pound|450 grams lamb loin, trimmed and very finely chopped 
kosher salt, to taste
¼ cup|3 grams roughly chopped Thai basil leaves                    
¼ cup|5 grams roughly chopped mint leaves
¼ cup|7 grams roughly chopped dill
1 (4.9-ounce|140-gram) package black sesame rice crackers


  1. Make the laarb paste: Heat oven to 300°F. Combine the galangal, chilies, and the dried spices in an aluminum parcel and roast in the oven for 2 hours uncovered. Shake every 30 minutes and move the spices around. Remove from the oven and cool, then grind all of the spices in a spice grinder.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium-low. Add the ground spices and reduce the heat to low. Add the fish sauce and palm sugar and cook until it forms a thick paste, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool and set aside.
  3. Toast the pine nuts: Heat a small skillet over medium-low. Add the pine nuts and cook until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Place in a small bowl and let cool. 
  4. Make the laarb: In a large bowl, mix half of the pine nuts, the shallot, olive oil, laarb paste, and 2 tablespoons of fried shallots with the chopped lamb. Season to taste with salt.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the herbs. Reserve for garnish. Transfer the lamb mixture to a plate and top with some of the fried shallots and pine nuts. Garnish with the herb salad and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately with the black sesame rice crackers. 

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