Anatomy of Larb | KCET
Anatomy of Larb
Larb is a Southeast Asian minced meat salad with many spellings (larb, laab, larp, laap, lahb, lob, lop, and the list goes on) and a few variants (Isan or Lanna, from Laos or Thailand). But when most people speak about larb, they refer to it fondly as a dish that takes them back to the streets of Thailand, or at least their favorite Thai restaurant. Although the dish is straightforward, it is far from simplistic. As chef Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P. explains, there could be close to 30 ingredients in one plate.
Click the hotspots below to learn more about the ingredients tossed into larb.
More About Larb
Thai cuisine is "insanely diverse." Thailand breaks up into four different regions: central, southern, northern, and northeastern (Isan), each with different languages, food traditions and ingredients emerging from different environments. Bangkok is located in the central region, where the cuisine is characterized by curries and Chinese influence. This is the type of food most familiar to westerners (though this is changing, especially in Los Angeles). Southern dishes are the spiciest and typically include coconut milk and seafood. Northern cuisine is characterized by herby, brothy, boiled (or fried) pork. Northeastern dishes tend to be heavier on lime, such as the green papaya salad som tum. The origin of laap, a dish in the same family as larb but including raw meat and blood, is debatable, as people from both northern and northeastern Thailand claim the dish.
Larb is said to have originated in Laos but today, the dish is regional to Laos and Isaan (or Isan), the northeastern region of Thailand bordering Laos and Cambodia. The largest region of Thailand is where most of the nation's rice is grown and has a rich Khmer era history going back at least 5,000 years. Although it's the area least frequented by tourists, Isaan is known for it's specific regional cuisine and, unfortunately, for its underdevelopment and civil unrest.
Digital Street Food
In an effort to attract more tourists to northeastern Thailand, the Thai government created a mobile app to help visitors find street food stalls and restaurants by name, type of food desired or location.
More Migrant Kitchen Stories
Calling all dog-lovers! Explore six of the best SoCal pop-up events for your pups.
Learn how to prepare Matador Guacamole from "Pati's Mexican Table."
Learn how to prepare Texas Caviar from "Pati's Mexican Table."
"Beside the Edge of the World," a multimedia, interdisciplinary art exhibition at The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens explores and unearths ideas of “utopia” through the lens of three artists.
Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada Thai and Louis Tikaram of E.P. & L.P. transport the palate around the world with the complex flavors of Thai cuisine.
A collective of culturally connected, distinguished chefs (including Ray Garcia of Broken Spanish, Wes Avila of Guerilla Tacos, Carlos Salgado of Taco Maria, as well as Jorge Gaviria of Masienda) push forward the “Alta California” Mexican food movement.
Like carefully selected spices to a classic Indian dish, The Mahendro family contributes something special and significant to their restaurant Badmaash and to the city of L.A.
Echo Park's Tsubaki, Sonoko Sakai, Wild Live Seafood's Seiichi Yokota and Spago Beverly Hills aims to introduce Angelenos to the unique spirit of Japanese hospitality and the culture's deep culinary customs.
Cassia in Santa Monica, Good Girl Dinette in Highland Park, Red Boat Fish Sauce, and Minh Phan of Porridge & Puffs are hoping to demonstrate that there’s so much more to Vietnamese culture than banh mi, spring rolls and pho.