mushroom laab (ລາບເຫັດ—laab hed)

Laab(ລາບ) is a more well-known Lao dish. There are many different romanizations—laab, laap, larb, larp, lahb, lahp, lap—but in any case, this dish is delicious.

Making laab is traditionally a long process involving laborious preparation of a cow or other large animal. Because of the sacrifice in killing a large animal and all the work put into preparing it, this dish was historically made for special occasions and festivals. Meat, organs, and even blood were used for the greatest appreciation and best flavor. This version with mushroom, or hed(ເຫັດ), is more of an everyday laab and still has all the essential flavors: plenty of sour from lime juice, savory from mushroom, and spice from bird’s eye chili.

Mushroom and other ingredients must be minced and prepared beforehand. Then these are briefly cooked and toasted rice powder is added. The laab is then removed from the heat source and completed with plenty of herbs and lime juice. Laab is traditionally served on lettuce leaves alongside rice and often sour soup.

recipe

(serves 2)

4 cup oyster or beech mushroom or mixture, or other mushroom
2 clove garlic, minced
4 bird’s eye chili, minced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 thumb galangal, minced
2 stalk lemongrass, prepared
salt
¼ cup rice, toasted and finely ground
8 kaffir lime leaf, chopped
1 lime juice
herbs such as dill, mint, coriander, sawtooth herb, thai basil

• pound lime leaf, salt, garlic, chili, shallot, galangal, lemongrass
• add mushroom
• saute
• add rice powder
• remove from heat
• add lime juice
• serve with herbs in lettuce with rice