One of our favorite, favorite restaurants back in Birmingham was a local Thai restaurant called Surin. Unfortunately, finding gluten free Thai fare (or any GF Asian food at all) can be difficult. That’s not going to stop me from eating Thai food though! By no means!
Over the past few years, I’ve tried my hand at a few Thai recipes. Finding great replacements that meet my Surin-created standards has been difficult, to say the least. Thai dishes use many ingredients and flavors that are not traditionally used in American cuisine, so it’s taken time to develop my palate so that I can taste a Thai dish and say, “Oh, that has ginger, basil, and lemongrass.” Or, “Hmm… that needs a bit more fish sauce.”
Nevertheless, we’ve enjoyed the attempts at recreating our favorite Thai dishes, and one of them is finally ready to see the light of day. LARB
Larb is a Laos/Thai dish of highly spiced ground meat that is usually served as part of a salad or in lettuce or cabbage wraps. It’s somewhat similar to the lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s, but with a different flavor profile due to the different herbs used.
When you’re cooking Asian dishes, it’s very important to find gluten free ingredients. Several of my favorite gluten free products are used in this recipe, so let me give you a quick recap. (I’ve included links so that you can see the product and know what you’re looking for in the grocery store.)
San-J’s Gluten Free Tamari – we use San-J’s gluten free tamari instead of soy sauce. I love the taste and I love that San-J’s is certified gluten free.
Thai Kitchen fish sauce – Fish sauce is essential if you’re trying to replicate authentic Thai dishes. This product is labeled gluten free.
Gourmet Garden herbs – Gourmet Garden makes tubes of pureed herbs that are sold in the refrigerated produce sections of many grocery stores. This product also carries a gluten free label. For those of us who don’t have herb gardens, the Gourmet Garden herbs are a great option for keeping “fresh” herbs on hand for cooking. I generally always have ginger, basil and cilantro in my refrigerator. The lemongrass is somewhat more difficult to find, but it’s an essential flavor in this recipe.
Mary’s Gluten Free Larb
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 lbs ground turkey
2 heaping Tbsp Gourmet Garden ginger
1 heaping Tbsp Gourmet Garden lemongrass
1 heaping Tbsp Gourmet Garden basil
1 heaping Tbsp Gourmet Garden cilantro
4 Tbsp San-J gluten free tamari
1 scant Tbsp Thai Kitchen fish sauce
3 green onions, green portions only (optional)
cabbage or iceberg lettuce
1. Start by browning the ground turkey meat over medium-high to high heat. With this much meat, you’ll probably need to work in batches so that the meat browns. If you put too much in the pan, then the meat will just swim in the liquids that the turkey gives off as it cooks. Also, let the turkey sit once you put it into the skillet until the bottom has browned. Then flip it over and start separating it into pieces with your spatula.
2. Add the dice onion and minced garlic. Reduce the heat down to medium or medium-low, so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
3. Once the onions have softened and become at least semi-translucent, add all of the herbs, tamari and fish sauce. Stir well so that the herbs are well distributed Add the optional green onions, if you like. I use scissors to snip the onions into 1 inch section and stir them in right before serving.
4. Core and cut a cabbage or head of iceburg lettuce into halves or quarters. Serve the larb and greens together with a large spoon and let everyone serve themselves.
P.S. Many thanks to John for standing beside me and recording all of the ingredients the last time I made this. He raised his eyebrows a bit at the scant and heaping tablespoons. The herbs are a bit hard to measure – as long as you’re generally close to a tablespoon it will work our find. A scant measurement is one that falls just short of a full measurment. So a scant tablespoon is a tablespoon that is not quite filled up to the top.
We still don’t have a great picture of this because we always forget to take a picture in our hurry to eat! Hopefully we’ll remember next time…..but I’ve been saying that for months [sheepish grin]