Nam Pic (Sauce):
I know I'm always singing the praises of our wonderful foodie friends Dan and Lisa, especially the authentic Thai food they cook up for us that they learned while living in Thailand and today is no exception. We've had incredible Ba Mee Giao Moo Dang, Grapao (pronounced "kapow") and now this larp (pronouced "laap"). It is essentially a minced meat salad with hits of sour lime, fresh mint, spicy chili, salty fish sauce and nutty roasted rice. This dish is so quick and inexpensive to prepare, this is the go-to frequent dinner in Dan and Lisa's family. They call it their "KD". Dan and Lisa have five kids with one more on the way, and when we all sat down to eat, the kids were ravenous. Each child dished up rice, flavored pork and rolled the mixture into cabbage and lettuce leaves and tore into the rolls like they were chocolate covered twinkies. My husband and I went back for 5th and 6th helpings (I kid you not).
We loved this dish so much I made it at home a few days later when both my Mother-in-Law and my Dad were visiting. Neither of them were really familiar with authentic Thai flavors so I wasn't sure how well the meal would fly with them. When they were each reaching for 3rd and 4th helpings and licking the bowls clean I was completely convinced that this dish a winner.
Recipe by Dan Kremer
¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup fish sauce
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 Thai chili’s, deseeded and chopped
1-2 tsp brown sugar
1 lb ground pork (or ground beef or ground chicken)
3-4 tbsp Jasmine rice grains
3 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp fish sauce
3-4 tbsp fresh mint, chopped (or 2 tsp dried mint)
3-4 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
Cooked Jasmine rice
Lettuce leafs and/or napa cabbage leaves
To make the nam pic:
Add all the nam pic ingredients in a jar, stir well and let sit. This can be made well ahead of time and once made will store in your cupboard for a month (the longer it sits the more potent it becomes). If you find this is a dish that you really like and make often (like we do), I recommend making up a double or triple batch to save time the next time you make the dish.
To make the toasted rice:
In a dry wok or frying pan, add the rice grains over med-low heat. Let them toast until the grains have a nice golden color (will probably take about 10-15 minutes). Stir around to prevent from burning. A cool trick is to use an air popper popcorn maker if you have one. Add the rice grains, turn on and let toast until golden (probably about 5 minutes). I find this route shorter and you have to babysit the rice less. The rice doesn't burn quite so easily. Once toasted, remove from the heat and let cool. Place the toasted rice in a food processor, spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle until they turn to a bit of a powder. My food processor only chops them to this consistency but we like them a bit chunkier and crunchy.
In a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat until cooked through and crumbly. Once browned add the lime juice, fish sauce and about ½ of the toasted rice grains. Let sauté for about 4-5 minutes. Adding some of the toasted rice now, they will soak up the juices in the meat. When almost ready to serve, stir in the chopped mint and cilantro and top with the rest of the toasted rice. This adds a nice nutty crunch to the top.
Serve ground meat mixture with jasmine rice, nam pic and lettuce and/or cabbage leaves.
I like to put a scoop of rice of on my plate, with a big scoop of the meat mixture on top. I then spoon some of the nam pic over my meat, but this part is totally optional. The meat is already seasoned, but the nam pic just really blows the flavor out of the water and adds a good bit of spicy kick from the chili peppers. When adding nam pic to your food, just take the juice mixture and avoid the bits of garlic and chili. They are seriously potent! I then mix that together and scoop that into either a lettuce leaf or cabbage leaf and roll up like a burrito. Some people eat only the meat mixture in the lettuce/cabbage leaves and eat the rice separately, or eat the rice/meat mixture and skip the lettuce...it's all up to you. I like the napa cabbage a bit better as a wrap because it holds together better, is crunchier and has more flavor. But any way you serve this dish up, it's a winner.
Click here for printable version of Thai Larp
My NEW. FAVORITE. MEAL. Period.
I do realize that if you look at the ingredients and all the steps it does look kind of intimidating if you've never tried it. For us, the nam pic sauce is ESSENTIAL to the meal, but you could just leave that out if it scares you a bit. And like I said, you can mix up a batch before hand and eliminate that step when it comes time to make supper. I also like to toast more rice than I need and store it in a plastic container for the next time I make this dish. That way, when those two steps are out of the way, supper literally takes 15 minutes to put rice in the rice cooker and cook up the meat. The flavors of the sour lime and salty fish sauce dance on your tongue...and the nam pic adds a little "SHAZAAAAAM!" (that was so dorky of me to say, but accurately describes the taste sensation on your tongue).
Word of warning though: DON'T SMELL THE NAM PIC. Just don't do it. I'm warning you. It's one of those things that will scare you, but trust me....IT TASTES GOOD.
For those of you that haven't tried this dish before, have I scared you just a little bit? Or have I piqued your interest?
For more inexpensive meal ideas, visit $5 Dinner Challenge.