Recently I saw an episode of the ever so classy Diners, Drive Ins and Dives where Guy visited a dive that made all these amazing Thai dishes including larb! Larb (also known as laap, laab, larp or lahb) is a traditional Thai dish that originated in Laos. I fondly remember eating my ma’s version as a youngin’. The larb I ate growing up was made with
pork pig. The meat made up a majority of the dish. But when I saw Guy stuffing his face with it, I had a huge nostalgic craving for the rich spicy, tangy and briny flavor combination of my ma’s larb. So I made it vegan (and easy) style!
To replace the pig, I used a combination of chopped oyster mushrooms and small veggie soy protein chunks that I get at my local Asian market. My ma served her larb with rice and fresh cold and crunchy veggies on the side, like cucumbers and lettuce to help alleviate the spicy heat.
I decided to pair the rich soy protein and mushroom mixture with a wheat based Asian vermicelli noodle and the cucumbers. Rice vermicelli would also work. Or go gluten free and serve it in lettuce cups.
There are different components to this salad and when I put it all together, I like to have some of these components at different temperatures. Traditionally it’s all eaten at room temperature. But I like it when there are a whole bunch of contrasty things going on. Tender warm mushroom/soy protein (“pork”) contrasted against cold, crisp cucumbers, fresh cilantro and thin slices of red onion. All of it soaked in a spicy, tangy-lime “fish” sauce!
Thai Larb Noodle Salad
This makes about 4-6 servings. It was a lot for the two of us.
- 2 cups soy protein chunks
- 2 cups chopped oyster mushroom
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbs finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
- 3/4 cup of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
- 1 tbs + 1 tsp Sriracha Sauce
- 7 tbs lime juice
- 4 1/2 tsp maple syrup
- thin slices of fresh Thai peppers (optional if ya like it extra spicy!)
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- a large handful of vermicelli noodles (cooked according to package)
- 1 chopped cucumber
- fresh cilantro
- fresh lime slices (for garnish and extra tang)
- (edited to add that Thai Basil and mint are also great add ins, not included here)
Soak the soy protein in water or broth for about 20-30 minutes until softened and then drain (different brands/packages of soy protein may require different soaking times). Throw the garlic, lemongrass, soy protein and mushrooms in a lightly oiled pan on medium heat. Cook for about 10 minutes or so, until mushrooms are tender and cooked. There should not be much, if any, liquid in the pan. Season the mushroom/protein mix with salt and pepper to taste. I used about 1-2 tsp of each. Set aside so it cools. I like it warm, but not pipin’ hot. While that is cooling, make the sauce.
For the sauce, whisk together the Bragg’s, Sriracha, lime juice, maple syrup, and Thai peppers. Reserve 3/4 cup of the sauce for later. Add the remaining sauce to the mushroom/protein mixture and stir thoroughly. Also stir in most of the sliced red onions, reserving a few for garnish later.
Now it’s assembly time. Start with a layer of noodles. If the noodles have gotten clumpy or sticky just run them under cool water to rejuvenate them and drain. Then add a fresh layer of cucumbers. Next add a generous layer of “pork”, a handful of cilantro and few slices of fresh red onion. Serve with the extra sauce and several slices of lime.
It’s up to you if you wanna add more sauce to your individual bowl. Neal likes things extra saucy which is why I had the “reserve” for him. After assembling my bowl I like to drizzle just a lil’ more sauce on top, squeeze the fresh lime slice all over and give it all a good stir!
This would be a great “make it yerself” type of meal for guests if all the components were put out buffet-style to be assembled. That way, each bowl can be custom made. The Thai peppers can also be omitted from the sauce and served in a separate bowl for those who like to cry and sniffle when they eat like my ma. Love ya ma!