Paleo Thai Lettuce Wraps with Larb
I was craving takeout something fierce, so I made these paleo Thai lettuce wraps with pork larb instead. The thing about larb (sometimes "laab") is that it's got that perfect sweet-salty-umami that so many Thai recipes are known for — thanks to the earthly wonder that is fish sauce. I'm still not sure how something that smells like a fish's buttcheek can make food taste so good.
I mean, it's literally rotten fish juice.
Fish sauce, in its typical form, is not considered paleo due to the added sugar (and sometimes gluten or MSG). However, Red Boat Fish Sauce is the jam because fermented anchovies and sea salt are the only things that you'll find in their bottles. I highly recommend that stuff. It's kind of like coconut aminos in that it opens up a lot of Asian cuisine that would otherwise be impossible to make well without soy sauce and/or fish sauce.
Amazon is a good resource for both the fish sauce, aminos and other paleo-friendly groceries, but I've started using Thrive Market recently and noticed they stock these as well. Hooray! Thrive is like an online Costco for natural, health-minded products. You pay a small membership fee and then get discounted wholesale prices. If you use my referral link, you'll get a free month and $25 off your first order (baby, you know I take care a' you).
Now, enough shopping. Let's get to the food.
What is larb?
Larb is a ground meat Thai dish that's served at restaurants 'round the globe — typically with pork or chicken. It's super easy to make and super delicious to eat.
I made a light, herby cucumber salad to go along with this dish and it was the right decision (recipe here). I was so hungry after taking pictures on this tiny table that I didn't have the patience to make more wraps. Because it all went together so nicely, I just mixed everything up and turned the whole plate into a Thai chopped salad. And then I ate it out of a giant mixing bowl while watching Dr. Who.
Because that's real life, folks.
THAI LETTUCE WRAPS WITH LARB
paleo, whole30, gluten-free
- 4 T fish sauce
- 4 T fresh lime juice (about one lime's worth)
- 2 Thai chilies, thinly sliced (you can sub a jalapeño if you like)
- 2 T water
- 2 T coconut oil
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
- 2 T honey
- 1 lb. ground pork or chicken
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 a red onion, thinly sliced
- fresh Thai basil, mint and cilantro, chopped
- 2 heads of butter lettuce
- Mix 4 T fish sauce, juice of one lime, Thai chilies and water for the dressing. Set aside in the fridge until you're ready to eat.
- In a large pan, fry the garlic in coconut oil for about a minute on medium-high heat, then stir the honey into the pan. Add the ground pork or chicken and brown thoroughly.
- When the meat is done, stir in the fish sauce, coconut aminos and then the salt and pepper to taste.
- Top the larb with the fresh herbs and red onion.
- Serve with lettuce leaves and the dressing on the side to create little lettuce wrap tacos (or do like I did and pile it all together with cucumbers like a chopped salad). EAT.
- Adjust your heat levels accordingly. Some hot peppers can be weirdly mild, and others might want to murder you.
- I used sliced shallots when I photographed this, but the sweetness of red onion actually works better so that's why the recipe is written that way.