Laos street food : Larp, laab, laap, lab or larb? (sour minced meat salad)

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Larp, or any of the other spelling I’ve seen is a spicy meat salad and is considered the national dish of Laos. Now, we’ve spent a little time in Laos and I’m considering myself pretty well schooled in this dish. We’ve eaten fish, pork, beef, and duck larp. As you might guess, it’s pretty nice.

It’s clearly something that doesn’t have a uniform recipe as every time we’ve eaten it the flavours have been different, sometimes more lime, more lemongrass; or, in the fish variety more chilli. A lot more chilli! Personally, I like more lime and find pork is the best meat for the spices.

The main tastes are the flavours of Laos. Chilli, lime, mint, lemongrass, ground rice and fish sauce, mixed with meat and often in our experience green beans. The flavours are so fresh, it has a salsa like quality, it’s citrusy and spicy, whilst having a strong minty flavour. Jess articulated this brilliantly, describing it as a ‘meaty mojito’.

It’s traditionally served with sticky rice and you ball the rice in your hand and dip it into the meat and any sauce. Delicious.

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