All my years as a professional chef have led me to many interesting places and also the ability to meet lots of interesting people. Being exposed to multi-cultural cuisines over the years, I've developed a taste for some exotic things. Asian cuisine, although it is more popular now, has always intrigued me. The subtle way of blending flavors and texture together to make a complete meal is a method I really like.
One of my travels has introduced me to a new friend and fellow sportsman who comes from the country of Laos. We met at work and became friends after a few fishing trips. He expressed interest in eating wild game and fishing and hunting. I told him, "you met the right fellow. I hunt, fish and eat wild game all year long."
I brought him a few steaks from last year's venison, and we fished for crappie in the spring. We shared a wild turkey I harvested and this past season, for some reason, I was really harvesting the ducks. My aim was on and I had plenty. He wanted to try wild duck and goose, so I gave him a few and he cooked them. I asked him later how he liked them and he told me he made larb. Pronounced, (la:p) laap. I said "what is that"? He said, "It is a dish for luck. Very delicious!" He told me he would bring me some. Later in the week, he gave me a container of finely chopped and shredded meat with noticeable herbs and spices all through it. He said. "This is duck larb. I made it for you.”
So, after work, on my way home, I became curious about the container. I opened it and the aroma was awesome!
I tasted it and I enjoyed it very much. I nearly ran off the road as I tried to get more from the small container. When I got home, I heated the remainder up and it was even better. I would have to say that was the best wild duck I ever had. And I am telling you this as a trained professional chef. It was so good I had to call Bob.
Bob is a nickname, because his traditional Laotian name is a little difficult to say. Bob's given name is Bouakham Hiengphothichack. Like I said, we call him Bob! I asked him for the recipe and he gladly gave it to me and I will pass it to you. And remember, the way this is prepared, you can substitute, goose, venison, pork, beef whichever you prefer.
According to Bob, and other sources, larb (laap) is unofficially the national dish of Laos.
Cooking Wild Duck Larb
What You Need
- 1 Wild Duck Cleaned and Split. (Substitute Pork/Beef/Venison/Goose)
- 1 Small Red Onion Chopped Fine
- One Sprig of Fresh Mint (4-6) Leaves
- 1/2 Cup Bunch Fresh Cilantro
- 1 Tbs. Chopped Thai Chili or Jalapeno
- 1 Lime
- 1 Cup Chopped Green Onion
- 1 Tsp. Chopped Garlic
- 1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
- 2 -Tbs. Roasted Rice Powder (Available online or in an Asian market)
- 1 Chopped, Seeded and Peeled Medium Cucumber
- Grill or roast the duck to medium, medium rare
- Remove the meat from the bones and chop it finely with a clever or food processor
- Place finely chopped meat in bowl with all the juice and drippings
- Sprinkle lightly with pepper
- Chop the mint and the cilantro and add it to the meat
- Toss in the onion, cucumber, chili peppers and green onion
- Mix well adding the rice powder then squeeze the lime over the mixture
- Add the fish sauce
- Mix again very well.
Cover this mixture and refrigerate for an hour to let all the flavors mingle together. Then let it come to room temperature before eating. When serving this dish, it is very popular to serve with some sticky rice. Or, wrap the meat salad in a lettuce leaf and eat like a wrap or roll-up. A nice touch is to add a side of cole slaw or fresh sliced vegetables as an accompaniment.
- You can make the dish as spicy as you want by controlling the amount of chili peppers
- The fish sauce adds saltiness, not a fishy taste
- The cucumber adds coolness and a nice crunch
You can eat the Larb as a main dish or a side dish but, I know either way, you will enjoy this Laotian national dish!