In this original post from 2010, composed at the start of my interest in Thai cuisine, I eagerly penned this recipe. I have since furthered my education in Thai cuisine and have since added another vegan mushroom lap recipe to this site.
The original recipe still works, and moreover is still tasty, but for the purposes of authenticity (as much as I dislike that word in food discussion) I posted the aforementioned new recipe that is more discriminating.
It was the fall of 2003 when I first set foot in Southeast Asia, also the last time I've been inside Laos. Sitting outside a cafe along the main drag in Luang Prabang, my now chef-trained friend wanted to try a popular national beef salad: Lao Larb. So spicy it took her awhile to consume what she could, I've both taken my version down a notch in the chili department and veganised it to boot.
A bit of chili is a must with this dish, but if you absolutely despise it then I get it. By all means ditch the ingredient. Otherwise find your space along the chili spectrum and add just enough to suit your tastes (start small, kids).
In terms of other ingredients, my version is quite salty with a strong tang from the lime juice. You may want to cut back a little bit for a milder flavour, replacing what you leave out with water (so the TVP has something to soak up). You can always season with more of any of the liquid ingredients later.
Vegetarian Soy-Mushroom Larb
- Heat the soy sauces, lime juice, water, and palm sugar in a small saucepan just until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the TVP and green chili. Most of the liquid will be soaked up.
- Toast your rice by simply dry frying it until it browns, followed by a quick session with a pestle and mortar (5 minutes-ish total time). In a large bowl, add the rice powder, mint, spring onion, shallot, lemongrass, lime leaves, and cashews (just deep fry cashews until they're a couple shades darker).
- Heat another pan or wok and stir fry the mushrooms with a little oil, just until they begin to release their juices. Tip the TVP and any remaining sauce in and stir well, stir frying for another minute.
- Add the mushrooms and TVP to the bowl with the other ingredients and mix well.
- Serve with rice or fresh thinly cut vegetables and salad (or all of the above).