Laotian Shrimp Larb

laotian shrimp larb lettuce
Photo: Christopher Testani
Prep Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 25 mins

Not familiar with larb? It's a traditional Laotian dish that's meant to be eaten with your hands and relies on chopped meat or seafood, flavorful aromatics, and fiery chiles. Toasted and ground rice adds a subtle nutty-sweet flavor and also thickens the sauce for our shrimp iteration.


  • ¼ cup sweet white rice (sometimes labeled "glutenous")

  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice

  • ¼ cup Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce

  • 2 tablespoons minced lemongrass, plus ⅓ cup thinly sliced rounds (from 4 stalks)

  • 1 piece ginger (1 inch), peeled and minced (2 tablespoons); plus a 4-inch piece, peeled, thinly sliced lengthwise, and sliced into thin matchsticks (½ cup)

  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot, plus ¾ cup thinly sliced rounds (from 5 shallots)

  • ¼ cup sugar

  • 2 Thai chile peppers, sliced into thin rounds

  • 2 tablespoons corn or other vegetable oil, plus more for frying

  • Kosher salt

  • 1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped

  • ½ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, plus more for serving

  • ¼ cup sliced fresh mint leaves, plus whole leaves for serving

  • ¼ cup sliced fresh basil leaves, plus whole leaves for serving

  • 1 head green- or red-leaf lettuce, leaves separated

  • 1 English cucumber, sliced into ¼-inch rounds, for serving


  1. Toast rice in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking pan frequently, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool slightly, then grind to a powder in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

  2. In a bowl, combine vinegar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, fish sauce, and minced lemongrass, ginger, and shallot. Heat sugar in a covered small saucepan over medium-low until it melts, about 5 minutes. Remove lid; continue cooking, swirling pan, until sugar is deep amber. Remove from heat. Carefully add vinegar mixture (mixture will bubble and harden). Return to medium heat and cook, stirring, until sugar dissolves again. Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice and peppers. Let cool completely.

  3. Heat 1/4 inch oil in skillet over medium. When it shimmers, add lemongrass rounds and cook, stirring occasionally with a fork, until golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with salt. Fry ginger matchsticks and 1/2 cup shallot rounds, in separate batches, in same manner.

  4. Season shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat a large skillet over medium-high. Swirl in 2 tablespoons oil. Add remaining 1/4 cup shallot rounds; cook until soft and golden in places, 2 to 3 minutes. Add shrimp and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and toss with vinegar mixture and rice powder. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Stir in peanuts and sliced mint and basil. Spoon mixture into lettuce leaves with cucumber. Top with whole herbs, fried aromatics, and more peanuts; serve.

Related Articles