Weekly Winner:  Loving the Larb – Sans Carb!

OK, I know… perhaps this title is a bit obscure, but much like this dish, it made me smile.  Larb is a very popular style dish in both Laos and Thailand. It’s a spicy meal of ground meat which I suspect is usually served on rice.  In this twist, the larb is served on a bed of roasted cabbage. This is Spicy Chicken Larb with Thai-Style Roasted Cabbage and the recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It’s zippy, spicy, fresh-tasting and terribly addicting.  And since there’s no carbs to feel guilty about (although I can honestly admit I’ve not regretted a single carb I’ve ever eaten!) you can keep on loving the larb!

As the roasted cabbage takes longer than the larb (by a long shot) – I’ve put that recipe first.

Thai-Style Roasted Cabbage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium head Savoy cabbage, halved through the core, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch ribbons, thick ribs and core discarded (about 16 cups)

2 Tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic

1 Tbsp fish sauce

1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp packed finely chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 tsp sambal oelek; more to taste

Procedure:

  • Position rack in the center of oven and heat to 425F.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the cabbage with the oil, 1/2 tsp salt, a few grinds of pepper.  Spread the cabbage out (it’s OK if the cabbage is mounded; it will shrink as it roasts), and roast, tossing every 10 minutes, until tender and most of the cabbage has turned golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk the lime juice, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, cilantro, and sambal oelek.
  • Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl and toss with 2 Tbsp of the dressing and salt.  Serve.

Spicy Chicken Larb with Thai-Style Roasted Cabbage

Serves 4

Ingredients:

3 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp dark brown sugar

1 tsp fish sauce

1/2 tsp sambal oelek; more to taste

3 Tbsp grapeseed or vegetable oil

1-1/2 cups finely chopped sweet onion

1 Thai bird chile, half seeded and minced, half cut into rings and reserved for garnish if desired

1 tsp minced garlic

1 lb ground chicken

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Kosher salt

1 tsp finely grated lime zest; more to taste

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice; more to taste

Thai-Style Roasted Cabbage (recipe above)

3 to 4 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced on a diagonal (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Procedure:

  • In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and sambal oelek
  • In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and minced chile, and cook, stirring frequently until the onion begins to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds
  • Add the chicken and cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 6 to 8 minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and add the lime zest and juice.  Toss to combine, and season to taste with more zest, juice and salt.
  • Serve the chicken over cabbage.  Top with the scallions, peanuts, and chile rings, if using.
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