A raw larb is a rude shock to Westerners taught not to eat such things – but our abhorrence can be unlearned.
How good is this recipe?
It's SO good, that when we caught the fish out of Aunty's pond, Uncle only came to watch, give input, and laugh at the crazy Farang taking photos.
He ended up joining us to eat, then insisted on taking some home for his family dinner.
Not a dead fish, not a fresh fish, and don't even THINK about using a frozen fish.
Say frozen ONE MORE TIME!
Raw laab with striped catfish
2 live catfish or pla sawaii (any live fish with great tasting meat is OK)
Fresh raw fillets from two live 1kg catfish
Sliced blanched/cooked fish belly, liver and skin. (blanch in simmering fish 1-2 minutes only)
Vietnamese mint (pak faai)
Ginger, peeled and freshly ground
Fish stock (recipe below)
Ground roasted dry red chilli
Prickly ash berry (Makhwaen) – or you can use Sichuan pepper
Ground roasted rice
Roasted dry red chilli flakes
MSG – optional
Fish bile (optional)
Coriander / cilantro – fresh
Spring onion, freshly finely chopped
Fresh green leaves and vegetables to eat with the 'larb'
Steamed white sticky rice to eat with the laab
To prepare the fish
- Remove skin, then fillet the catfish. Keep bile sac aside. Separate belly, keep bones and head for soup.
- Make stock with the bones and head (recipe below)
- Blanch skin, belly and liver until just cooked. Keep aside.
Fish stock / soup:
- Bones from fish
- Water to cover bones
- Kaffir lime
- Salt to taste
- Fillet fish. Add boines and head to the pot, cover with water.
- Add lemongrass, kaffir lime, salt to taste.
- Simmer very gently for 15 minutes only. Turn off and allow to settle.
- DO NOT BOIL. DO NOT COOK MORE THAN 15 MINUTES.
Traditional local method to make north Thai & Laos fish larb.
- Chop fresh boneless fish fillet with fresh Vietnamese mint (ram leaf) and ground ginger root until pureed
- Pound makwem/prickly ash with garlic until it is a paste.
- Chop coriander and spring onion brieflty with a sharp knife
- Chop the garlic/prickly ash mix into the pureed fish & vietnamese mint/ginger mix
- Put the puree into a bowl and stir in the fish stock. Beat well to combine.
- Stir in the roasted chilli flakes, then stir in the ground roasted rice.
- Season with salt to taste and add MSG if using
- Stir in fish bile. You can not taste the 'bitterness' in the finished dish – but it balances and enhances the flavour
- Stir in the coriander and spring onion
The belly. Not as impressive as my belly, but this fish belly needs a quick simmer in the stock before we use it. 1-2 minutes only, as discussed above.
I KNOW that! there's no need to rub it in.
The whole family is involved, prepping, cooking, swapping tales and laughter, being a part of this 'ritual'