Cauliflower Larb

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Okay, okay. I know this larb isn’t even remotely authentic, but these days I sort of want to larb everything. Chicken larb? Check. Lamb larb? Check. And this cauliflower larb is surprisingly delicious, albeit much lighter than its meaty counterparts. Make this for a light lunch or dinner — you won’t miss the meat.

Cauliflower larb

1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets with some stalk attached
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 Thai chiles, finely chopped
1 4-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sticky rice
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mint
Salt
Sliced Persian cucumber and Bibb lettuce, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and well browned, about 50 minutes. Let cool slightly; chop into pea-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chiles, lemongrass, lime leaves, fish sauce, and lime juice; mix.

2. Meanwhile, place rice in a small skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking pan frequently to keep rice moving, until evenly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Grind in spice mill to a powder similar to cornmeal.

3. Toss green onions, cilantro, mint, and toasted rice powder into cauliflower mixture; season with salt. Serve with cucumber and lettuce to make lettuce cups.

Som Tam with Green Beans

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Salty, sour, and a little bit sweet, this Thai-inspired salad is a pinch to make and goes perfectly with all manner of grilled meats (or even on its own, really). I tried many variations of long bean salads in Chiang Mai a couple of years ago and the peanut and lime-flecked ones similar to this one remain my favorite.

Som tam with green beans

Ingredients:

1 garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 anchovy, minced
1 bird chile, minced
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound green beans or long beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch lengths

1. Place the garlic, salt, peanuts, anchovy, chile, and sugar in a food processor and process to a paste. Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the lime juice and fish sauce. Add the chopped tomatoes and green beans, mix, and serve.

Khmer-Style Rice Soup

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Adapted from a recipe in my weathered copy of Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, this rice porridge is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Similar to Singaporean congee or Cantonese jook, it’s got that same stick-to-your-ribs heartiness as any good rice soup should. The garnishes are endlessly adaptable — feel free to adjust to your liking.

Ingredients:

For the soup:

1/2 pound ground turkey
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
6 1/2 cups water
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and smashed flat with the side of a heavy blade
1 teaspoon anchovies in oil, drained and minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and smashed flat
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed in cold water
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic

For the garnishes:

1/4 cup fish sauce
1 Thai bird chile, minced
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 small bunch Thai or American basil, coarsely torn
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Black pepper
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1. In a medium bowl, combine the turkey with the fish sauce and sugar, mix well, and set aside.

2. Place the water in a large heavy pot over high heat, add the lemongrass, anchovies, and ginger, and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes, then add the rice and stir until the water returns to a boil. Maintain a gentle boil until the rice is tender (adding more water if necessary to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot), about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat. Remove the lemongrass and ginger.

3. In a skillet, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the turkey and stir-fry, using your cooking spoon to break up any large pieces. Cook, stirring frequently, until the turkey has cooked through, about 7 minutes. Transfer the contents of the skillet to the soup and stir in.

4. Make the garnishes: Combine the fish sauce and chile in a condiment bowl and set aside.

5. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 3-5 minutes. Remove the shallots to a small bowl and set aside.

6. Just before serving, reheat the soup. Ladle into individual serving bowls and top with the basil, green onions, some shallots, black pepper, peanuts, and drizzle with the fish sauce-chile mixture. Serve hot.

Thai-Style Broccolini

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What makes this broccolini Thai-influenced? The addition of fermented soybeans, which became one of my favorite seasonings when I visited Bangkok and Chiang Mai a couple of years ago. Salty and savory, you can swap out the broccolini for any leafy vegetable with equally tasty results.

Thai-Style Broccolini

Ingredients:

1 pound broccolini, cleaned and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fermented soybeans (dao jiao)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 cup water

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the salt. Add the broccolini and blanch for 1 minute, then drain and set aside.

2. Heat a wok over high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the broccolini. Stir-fry for 2 minutes, then add the fermented soybeans and fish sauce. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, then add the water, bring to a boil, and cover. Lower the heat to a low boil, cook for about 2 minutes, then remove the lid. You want the greens to be tender and still bright green. Serve warm.

Turkey Larb

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You know about my trifecta for a perfect recipe, right? If its (a) delicious, (b) healthy, and (c), easy to make, then it enters the gilded hall of Recipes To Be Cherished Forever Because The Nom Factor Is V High. This turkey larb makes the cut, especially since I’m trying to eat less grains these days. Hot, sour, salty, and a tiny bit sweet, you can larb anything, but this is poultry version is classic and never gets old.

turkey larb

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried chiles, roasted and ground to the texture of red chili flakes
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion or shallots
1 thinly sliced green onion
15-20 mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons rice, toasted and finely ground in a spice grinder
Butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice, to serve

1. Put the turkey in a medium saucepan and cover with water, stirring over medium heat until the turkey is opaque but still soft. Use a spatula to break up the meat into small pieces. Drain off the water, then stir in the fish sauce and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool.

2. Once the turkey has cooled, add the seasonings and mix thoroughly: the chile powder, red onion, green onions, mint, cilantro, and lime juice. Once you’re ready to serve, add the rice powder at the last moment, then mix again. Serve with butter lettuce, sliced cucumber, and sticky rice on the side.