Recently I have been craving south east Asian food. And one dish in particular has been coming to mind. I even dreamt of it one night.
Maybe its because at this time of year I am usually sitting in a forest somewhere in south-east Asia recording the local wild food plants.
Or maybe it’s simply because it’s been getting a bit fresh with the weather and I need some heat in my bones.
One thing I do know, is that when Robin hits any major city he goes on a hunt for this delicious dish.If you’ve ever been in northern Thailand, you may well have come across it if you have eaten Isan cuisine.
The dish I am referring to is Lahp, also spelt Larb or Laap, and is a spicy salad dish nowadays usually made with minced meat, herbs, lime juice and chilli, plus a few other nicknacks.It originates from Laos where it is a traditional, national dish.
This is Pon my Laos plant guide. I am indebted to him for showing and teaching me so many edible forest plants.
Everything from monitor lizards to beef, and everything in-between, including the internal organs can go into a Lahp dish.If you’ve ever been into Laos forest villages, you’ll have discovered pretty quickly that if it moves, they eat it.
Lahp means ‘good fortune’. Well we can all do with more of that, and is a stable at festival feasts.
Traditionally it was served raw, in a similar way to steak tartare, but these days its usually cooked.?
I’ve tried pretty much every variation you can think of, including ones that contain some pretty unmentionable animal organs.
Yet my favourite, and the one that I chase down as often as I can, uses minced pork.
Naturally I try and obtain organic meat where possible, but in some places in Asia you might just have to overlook such ‘privileges' as organic.
I’m sure if you are a vegan or vegetarian by now you’re retching. So please don’t send me anymore ‘veggie hate mail’, than I get already.
Just start your own blog and post the virtues of your chosen diet, rather than go in for the attack.So much for love, peace and tolerance… eh.
But I detract. So where was I?
Ah yes, Lahp…
Oh-lawdy, I can feel my saliva glands activating already just talking about it.
Anyhoo, recently I decided to make a wild(ish) version. I really urge you to give it a go.
It’s quick, simple and so bloomin’ scrummy that hopefully it’ll tickle your tastebuds so much you’ll end up being as much a fan as I am.
You can pretty much throw any wild salad greens into this dish, so why not play around in the kitchen. Especially as the little green beings have started poking their heads above ground as I write this.
Robin is a forager and self-taught ethnobotanist. He specialises in wild edible plants and has been running foraging courses throughout the UK since 2008. He travels extensively documenting and recording the traditional and local uses of wild food plants in indigenous cultures.