Veganizing and Noodle-izing My Ma’s Thai Larb

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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!

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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.

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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!

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Thai Larb Noodle Salad

Ingredients

This makes about 4-6 servings.  It was a lot for the two of us.

“Pork” Mixture

  • 2 cups soy protein chunks
  • 2 cups chopped oyster mushroom
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs finely chopped lemongrass (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper

Sauce

  • 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

Accompaniments

  • 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)

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Directions

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

36 thoughts on “Veganizing and Noodle-izing My Ma’s Thai Larb

    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thanks Becky! The oyster mushrooms worked our really well. The soy protein was what gave it that more chewy porky texture but I didn’t want to use only soy protein, so the mushrooms were a great filler.

      Reply
  1. Jbyrd

    It looks like a wonderful dish! But you should know that Larb Gai is a Thai salad dish made of chicken and Nam Sod is basically the same dish made from pork.

    Reply
    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you! I didn’t realize there was a difference regarding whether pig or chicken was used. Thanks for the info! I guess growing up, my mom never really told us what we were eating and she never taught us how to make dishes because that wasn’t her thing. I tried to put the pieces together by reading her menu when she had a restaurant, but by then I wasn’t eating meat so it was a little tougher. When I saw the dude on tv make it, it looked and sounded like my ma’s so I went with it. :-)

      Reply
  2. Mel

    We are synchronised blogs today although your photos are simply stunning! I posted about a Thai larb salad too but didn’t put up a recipe as it wasn’t quite right. I think mine was missing some extra sweetener as it was slightly too sour. Do you ever add Thai basil to yours?

    Reply
    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thank you! And wowee, what a coincidence…great minds, eh? :-) I just kinda mimicked what I saw the dude do on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I would serve it with Thai basil and mint if I had some on hand but I often don’t. :-P

      Reply
  3. beatlebird

    OMG!!! I was just thinking yesterday about how much I miss larb! The one I used to get had chicken in it (larb gai). I mean, at the time, it was yummy….and then I went veg years later and have always wondered about “vegan” larb. Thank you!!!

    Reply
    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Absolutely seitan would work. Anything “meaty” that is finely chopped will give it that crumbly meat feel. I also don’t regularly have a lot of Thai herbs on hand but if you do, mint and Thai basil would be the jam to add to it.

      Reply
  4. Katie @ Produce on Parade

    Um…this is awesome-sauce. What a wonderful recipe. Thank you so much for sharing! I really like how you use the “pig” instead of “pork” verbiage. What a simple yet profound way to help people make the connection between the “meat” and the sentient being :)

    Reply
  5. Maggie Muggins

    That looks goooood, I haven’t had any Thai food in ages and I’ve never had larb before. I love seeing people veganize foods they ate growing up, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy :)

    Reply
  6. Cadry's Kitchen

    This sounds so good! I never have soy protein chunks on hand, but I bet it would be great with Soy Curls, which I already have in the fridge. We should make some kind of Charlie Sheen meme where instead of saying, “Winning!” he’d say “pinning!” Then I could post it whenever you have recipes like this one that will immediately be going onto my Pinterest page. :)

    Reply
    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Thanks Cadry! LOL at the Charlie Sheen thing. I hadn’t heard of the “winning” thing with him so had to google it. Whaaa? He’s so weird. I bet soy curls would be great with this. I WILL own a bag of soy curls one day.:-)

      Reply
  7. Arthur

    This recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it. I just made a vegan green papaya salad and I’ve been told that traditional accompaniments are sticky rice and Larb (Laab). So I was looking for a Vegan version and there you were. Looks great on the noodles but want to try with the sticky rice too. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
    1. luminousvegans Post author

      Mmmm, I LOVE sticky rice! I actually love eating green papaya salad with sticky rice. I have never made papaya salad myself. Just recently I found a vegan version sold at a restaurant here in Eugene and it is so delicious! I would love to make it at home though…do you have the recipe up on a blog or website? :-)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Reply

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