Thai Larb Recipe (Larb Moo)
Thai Larb (Larb Moo) recipe is one of those meals that will make you forget you are eating healthy! This Larb Thai salad is loaded with fresh herbs, crunchy vegetables, and full of freshness all ready in under 30 minutes! If you love authentic Thai Larb that’s also gluten-free, paleo, low carb, and keto, this is a must-have for Thai food lovers!
What is Larb?
Larb is a type of Lao & Isan style meat salad which means it’s a cuisine found in Laos and Northern Thailand. It’s one of the most famous Thai street foods in the northern part of Thailand Isaan region where the majority of the population is of the Lao ethnicity.
Larb Thai is often made with minced pork (Larb Moo or Laab Moo), chicken (Larb Gai), and duck but beef (Larb Neua/ Nua) will do just wonderfully well. For vegetarians or vegans, mushrooms are often used to replace meat. The flavor of the Thai larb is citrusy, salty, and little bit of spicy. Since it’s a meat based salad, larb is often served with sticky rice and loads of fresh herbs, mint, and raw vegetables.
Toasted Sticky Rice – A Must Have Item & My Grain-Free Solution
When you visit Thailand, one of the most significant differences you’ll notice in Thai larb recipe is the toasted sticky rice powder (also known as Khao Khua). The sticky rice is dry toasted lightly over a skillet/wok until golden brown then grind or pound into a coarse powder. It’s important to not miss this essential ingredient because the toasted sticky rice not only adds extra flavor and crunch to the salad but also acts as an ingredient to absorb moisture and liquid from the ground meat.
You can purchase sticky rice in almost any Asian grocery stores or online and here’s a great recipe on how to toast them for Thai larb. Thanks to a reader pointing out that although sticky rice is also know as glutinous rice or sweet rice, it actually doesn’t contain gluten. You can read more about the article Is there gluten in glutinous rice.
For the purpose of my blog – I Heart Umami is a paleo blog, in case you just landed here from the wild wild world:), I select hemp seeds and lightly toasted cashews or slivered almonds to replace the sticky rice and make the toppings grain-free and lower in carbs.
It goes without saying that hemp seeds and nuts are very different from sticky rice. The reason I selected these two alternatives is because hemp seeds give a sweet nutty fragrance after lightly toasted and they absorb liquid quite well in the Thai larb recipe. When you grind or pound the hemp seeds with toasted nuts, the two work surprisingly well together.
One thing to point out is that Thai larb uses dry ground chili flakes also known as Prik Bon or Prik Pon as opposed to fresh chilies. Prik Bon can be purchased on Amazon or sometimes even your local Chinese grocery stores. For a simple substitute, use dry crushed red pepper flakes or chili powder.
Thai Larb Salad (Larb Moo)
The actual cook time of Thai larb is surprisingly short and straight forward. The meat is barely seasoned until after it’s cooked through. This is almost the opposite from the way I was taught to cook ground/minced meat where the meat is seasoned first to bring out more flavor.
On the other hand, I totally can see the rationale behind Thai larb. The meat based salad is garnished with tons of fresh herbs, mint, and citrus and all these ingredients don’t do well with heat so no wonder Thai larb becomes a popular dish throughout the world because of its simplicity and you can enjoy it all-year-round.
So my friends! This is my take on Thai Larb Recipe made Paleo, Whole30, and Keto! Just because it’s a recreate version doesn’t mean that it’s not tasty or not authentic. On the contrary, This Thai Larb Recipe is probably the closest thing you can find in the grain-free and low carb world. If you love Thai food made easy, I highly recommend that you give it a try.
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More Healthy Asian Dinner Recipes!
- Moo Shu Chicken
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- Thai chicken satay
- Thai Dipping Sauce (Nam Jim Jaew)
- Moo Goo Gai Pan
- Thai sesame beef with mushrooms
- Pad woon sen
- Chiang Mai Noodles (Khao Soi)!
Thai Larb Recipe – Larb Moo (Larb Thai Salad)
For the crunch (to replace toasted sticky rice):
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 2 tbsp cashew or slivered almonds
- 1 lb. ground pork, or chicken, turkey, beef. see notes
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/8 tsp white pepper, or black pepper
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1.5 tbsp avocado oil
- 2.5 oz. chopped shallots, , about 1-2 large shallots
- 1.5 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp coconut aminos
- Half one whole lime juice
- 1-2 tsp dry chili flakes or powder
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 20 sprigs mint leaves, , roughly chopped
- 3-4 bulbs green scallions, , chopped
- Cabbage wedges, , as much as you like, raw
- ½ to 2/3 cup diced green beans, , raw
- 1-2 whole Persian cucumbers, , dice to 2-inch in length, raw
- In a well-heated skillet, dry roast hemp seeds and cashew or almonds for 2-3 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir-often so to not burn the seeds/nuts. Grind or pound them in a pestle and mortar until they become a coarse powder. Some parts remain small chunky bits are totally okay. Set aside ready to use.
- Prepare shallots, cilantro, mint leaves, and scallions. Set each ingredient aside separately over a large plate and ready to use. Season the ground meat with lime juice, pepper, and salt.
- Use the same skillet, add oil and pan fry the meat over medium-high heat until it’s completely cooked through and break up to fine bits and pieces, about 10 minutes. There should be a minimum amount of liquid in your skillet at this point. Turn off the heat.
- While the skillet is still hot, add shallots, stir and use the remaining warmth to bring out the shallot fragrance. Season the meat with fish sauce, coconut aminos, lime juice, and chili flakes, and lastly add cilantro, mint leaves, and scallions. Toss and taste test to adjust the dish to your personal preference – perhaps more lime, fish sauce…etc.
- Sprinkle the toasted hemp seeds and nut powder to replace toasted sticky rice over Thai larb. 1-2 tbsp a time until your desired level. Serve with cabbage wedges, green beans, and cucumbers on the side. Serve in room temperature.
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Love Thai food? Check out my Paleo Thai Basil Beef, 16 best tried and true Whole30 Thai recipes, Paleo Pad Thai, Thai no peanut peanut sauce, Thai cucumber noodles in peanut sauce, Thai style Paleo Fish en Papillote, Thai Chopped Bok Choy Salad, Thai fried rice with Chicken, Cauliflower Thai fried rice, Thai Dipping Sauce, and Crispy Thai Chicken Salad.
This is so delicious. I make it at least once a week. Over time I have altered it a bit by adding garlic and ginger with the shallots, as well as a drizzle of toasted sesame seed oil. I always serve it over bagged precut coleslaw, dressed with a squeeze of lime and another drizzle of sesame oil.
Thank you! Love this dish, too!
I’ve made this simple and delicious dish several times. It is so good with the fresh cabbage and cucumbers! The fresh herbs and lime juice add so much incredible flavor.
Made this using toasted sweet rice powder.
Used purple cabbage and red leaf lettuce with shredded carrots.
It was amazing!
My family loved it and is wanting me to make it again!
My aunt was Thai and would always make her delicious Thai dishes.
This brings back memories of her, thank you💖
Just made this, soooo amazing! I only used toasted cashews and it came out perfectly. Only had purple cabbage at home so ate it with that. Flavors are so on point, thank you once again!!!
That’s wonderful, Katy! Thanks for sharing!
I made mistakes and it was still delicious! It is so fast and easy. I made it about as hard as I could and it was still easy! I skipped the cashew and hemp seed. I did use cauliflower rice and a prepackaged cabbage salad for the cabbage. No dressing of course!
That’s great! So happy to hear and thanks for sharing!
This recipe is out of this world delicious! So easy and make sure you cook the meat on high heat so the moisture is all gone! Amazing taste flavor and texture 🙂
Thank you, Suzy! We absolutely love this dish, too!
Loved this. Can’t believe how easy it was to make Larb from home. Thanks for posting this!
Thank you, Brian. So happy to hear!
Looooove making larb at home- The flavors are very balanced although I did add some Thai basil and lemongrass (personal taste), so easy and quick- great for meal prepping or a quick lunch/dinner. Yet another amazing recipe from ChihYu, thank you!
Thank you, Alyssa!
This is so delicious and so simple! We made this in a tearing rush on a Friday night and I forgot to add the crushed nuts, but it still tasted lovely. We ate this with lettuce leaves and it was gone in 10 minutes… How’s that for a compliment? 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing this recipe.
Haha! Thanks so much, Anu! Appreciate it!
My whole family loved this recipe, and I have a couple very picky kids in the bunch! For the kids, I served with white rice. For my husband and me, I served with cauliflower rice and cabbage. It was amazing! I used ground turkey. It has already been requested that I make this again next week!
So happy to hear, Jo Anne!
Love this recipe! Easy and delicious.
If subbing ground meat with mushrooms, I recommend only lightly cooking the mushrooms and then removing them until the very end. That way they won’t lose water and make the dish too runny.
This recipe is so good!! 🤩 I am making this for the 4th time, it really is that good. So much flavour – the cilantro and the mint really make this dish sing! 👏🏼👏🏼
Yay. We love this Paleo Thai Larb very much, too!
The flavors in this dish just SING and DANCE! This recipe will definitely be featured in the regular rotation going forward.
In the unlikely event that there are leftovers, they are even better the next day.
ChihYu, I just love all your recipes. The trouble is that they are so delicious I canâ€™t just eat one portion. This was amazing, so easy, satisfying, packed with flavor and fits all my health requirements. Thanks again for giving me another go-to dish that will be on my weekly menu!
Thanks so much, Cheryl!
This is UNBELIEVABLY good! Thank you so much! I absolutely adore Thai food and this is just as good as my favorite larb. I could eat it every day!
Thank you, Emily! So touched. 🙂
Oh my!! This was so good!
I skipped the hemp hearts and just used almonds on their own.
I served it with red capsicums strips, baby lettuce and cucumber instead of the cabbage/green beans.
So good! Another delicious iheartumami recipe to add to the repertoire. Amazing, ChihYu!!
Thank you so much, Victoria!
This looks so delicious, and I just love your photos too, so bright and beautiful!
Larb style meals are my absolute fave, hands-down. I can’t wait to try your recipe. I like to have mine with spiralized veggies and plenty of herbs!
I have never had this before, but it sounds delicious! I’m going to give it a try real soon!
How creative! This dish looks SO good! I really like the options.. I can see my family enjoying this one, for sure!
Thanks for sharing the ‘history’ and details about the origins etc. Very interesting! I love using hemp seeds etc as toppings!
This looks so incredibly flavorful! I love how healthy it is, too.