A traditional Thai meat dish made with using only vegan ingredients

"So whatever you see pictured was most definitely, 100% immediately in my stomach as soon as we approved the shot. The shutter went, we gave a thumbs up and I inhaled this. It’s my new favourite. I love describing things as my new favourite to Shannon because it pretty much means every time she’s in the kitchen, she’s hearing it. But really, everyone, this is my new favourite.

At the core, I love Thai food. I would even say it’s my favourite cuisine. And it’s not even that I crave the Thai dishes I can’t have because they’re not vegan; I’m happy with my curries, soups and noodles. But when Shannon asked if I’d ever had larb salad, and on hearing I hadn’t because there’s no way to make it vegan (its main component is ALWAYS meat), it was challenge accepted! (That’s the code, right there. Don’t tell her there’s something she ‘can’t make vegan’; it sets her right off.) And she mastered it! It’s SO FREAKING GOOD.'' - Mo Wyse

Yield: 4-6 as a side or as 2 meals

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons Thai sticky rice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, very finely sliced
  • 200 g (7 oz/2 cups) soaked TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) or veggie mince
  • 1 tablespoon pickled chilli or 1 red bird’s eye chilli, chopped (we like things spicy, so this recipe is quite spicy as it stands, but feel free to omit or even add more)
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown or palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • ½ tablespoon soy sauce
  • 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup) water
  • 1 shallot, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, finely shredded
  • BIG handful of Thai basil
  • BIG handful of Vietnamese mint
  • BIG handful of coriander (cilantro)
  • handful of bean sprouts
  • 200 g (7 oz/1 cup) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 tablespoon roasted peanuts
  • 1 head butter (coral) lettuce (or any pretty little lettuce you can get), washed, plus extra leaves to serve
  • lime wedges, to serve

Method

  1. Add the sticky rice to a small, dry frying pan (that means no oil!) and toast over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until dark golden brown. Once you’ve achieved the right colour, transfer to a small bowl and leave to cool.
  2. Grind the rice to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle or a blender. Set aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over a medium–high heat, then add the ginger, garlic and lemongrass. Fry for a minute or so until it begins to turn a light golden colour – NOT DARK.
  4. Add the TVP and fry until golden brown and crispy. Once crispy, add a heaped tablespoon of the powdered rice to the mixture and stir to coat.
  5. Stir in the chilli, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce and water. Add the shallot and kaffir lime leaf and stir through, keeping the heat nice and high so they are partly cooked. You want them to be semi raw and coated in flavour. Remove from the heat.
  6. In a large bowl, combine your herbs, bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes and peanuts, then add the TVP mixture. Check the flavour and, if needed, add the juice of another half a lime. Add an extra teaspoon of rice powder and mix well to ensure everything is coated.
  7. Arrange the lettuce leaves on a serving dish and pile the larb salad on top. Serve with lime wedges and extra lettuce leaves to eat with.

This recipe comes from Smith & Deli-cious by Shannon Martinez & Mo Wyse (Hardie Grant, £20) Photography © Bonnie Savage