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Recipe from: Colonel Ian F. Khuntilanont-Philpott
This dish is similar to the common laab dishes, except that the meat is not cooked (or only very lightly cooked). It originated in Laos (hence the alternative name of laab lao), and is the common form found in rural parts of the Isan (North East Thailand). Today, because of concerns of the sanitary conditions in Thai slaughterhouses, the official government line is that the meat should be cooked, and it certainly doesn't make a great difference to the flavour of the dish if it is lightly cooked. It could also be made with pork or chicken, and I have succesfully made it with [jumbo] shrimp, crayfish, crab and lobster. khao kua is roughly ground toasted rice: you can make it by toasting a couple of tablespoons of uncooked white long grain rice in a skillet, then grinding, or you could substitute toasted bread crumbs.
½ pound of ground beef (or other, see comments above)
lime juice (see below)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly ground prik pon (ground dried red chilis)
1 to 2 teaspoons prikthai (freshly ground black pepper)
½ cup shallots, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon grass, bruised and sliced paper thin
3 bai magrut (kaffir lime leaves), torn, or 1 teaspoon lime zest
1 tablespoon khao kua
chopped spring onions, coriander/cilantro leaves as garnish;
a lettuce leaf for the serving plate,
and a selection of sliced vegetable crudites to accompany.
Place the ground meat in a mixing bowl, and thoroughly mix with fresh lime juice, and leave to marinade for an hour. Take the marinaded meat and knead it, much as you would if making pizza dough, squeezing thoroughly to drive out as much blood and other juice as possible, either in a muslin bag or a very fine seive such as a chinois. Drain thoroughly, and return to the mixing bowl, marinade again in fresh lime juice.
Repeat this process 3 or 4 times, then set aside, covered in a cool place to marinade a final time (it is not kneaded after the final marination — to underline the point it should be kneaded and drained 3 or 4 times, then marinaded once more).
At this stage you may, if you wish, stir fry the meat very briefly (it should still be very rare).
Finally combine the meat with the other ingredients: it should be hot and spicy, but not inedibly so, so add the chili powder in stages, tasting as you go.
Allow to stand for an hour before serving. To serve turn it onto a lettuce leaf on a serving platter.
This dish goes best with sticky rice, which can be used as an eating utensil: form a ball of rice and use it to pick up a little of the spiced meat. The rice and vegetable crudites will ameliorate the heat. Note that in the Isan diners usually add additional prik pon and nam pla prik or prik dong to make the dish even hotter!