If you've ever wondered upon the myriad spellings of this well known Thai salad (larb, larp, lahb, lahp, lab, lap, laap, laab, etc), it's purely down to the transliteration. Technically it should be 'lap' but as the 'a' sound is elongated in native Thai, it has become accepted to add an 'h' or an 'r' to mimic the prolonged vowel.
With regards to the -b and -p ending, while the บ in ลาบ (l-aa-p) would be a b- sound at the start of a word, the pronunciation is that of a 'p' at the end. But transliteration often looks at the word literally, hence the -b ending that is mostly seen.
Now, with that muzzy explanation behind us, let's crack on with the food.
Back in 2010 I penned my first vegan lap recipe, but as time and study have brought knowledge I'm adding a further vegan mushroom laap recipe to the site. A tightened up version. As mentioned on that original post, it isn't a faulty recipe, but rather lacks the background information I have today to make a more credible Isaan interpretation of this spicy Thai salad.
This vegan larp features the Isaan flavour profile most farang (white foreigners) expect: salty (from fish sauce, or soy sauce in this cruelty free variation), citrusy (from lime), and spicy (from roasted chilli powder). But lap is not defined by the sum of these traits.
Thai laap is not a food determined by a single flavour profile and combination of ingredients; in fact it is more a class of dish than it is the sum of its translations. Hence lap is probably best described as a minced salad. The mushroom version below is reminiscent of the familiar Isaan (Northeast Thailand) profile, but jump to La Naa (Northwest Thailand) to find an aromatic lap made with a paste of dried, toasted spices.
No matter how it's prepared, lap is meant to be consumed with generous quantities of fresh vegetables and herbs, as well as sticky rice.
Vegan Thai Mushroom Lap Salad
This vegan lap employs the meatiness and umami characteristics of mushrooms for a meat free version of this famous Thai cooked salad. Make the toasted ground rice by toasting dry sticky rice in a pan until lightly browned, and then pound it to a course texture using a pestle and mortar.
- 3 cups chopped mixed mushroom
- ¼-⅓ cup thinly sliced shallots
- 4 teaspoons thin soy sauce
- 4 teaspoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon roasted chile powder
- Handful mint leaves
- Handful roughly chopped coriander + stems
- 1-2 spring onions, chopped
- 1 tablespoon toasted ground rice
- Fresh raw vegetables (cabbage, long bean, carrot, lettuce, basil, etc…)
- Heat a wok or pan to medium-high, add the mushrooms, and cook until they soften and begin to release water. Immediately turn off and remove from the heat. Add the shallots, soy sauce, lime juice, and chile powder. Taste for seasoning and adjust any of the latter three ingredients to suit personal preference.
- Stir the mint, coriander, and spring onion and through the salad, followed by the toasted rice. Serve immediately with a heap of fresh vegetables and sticky rice.
- Author: Kip Dorrell
- Serves 2, with jasmine rice and fresh vegetables
- Cuisine: Thai