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LaoFood LarbNeua.JPG
Larb made with cooked beef in Vientiane, Laos
Alternative namesLap, Larp, Lahp, Lahb, Laab
Place of originLaos
Created byLao cuisine
Main ingredientsMeat (chicken, beef, duck, turkey, pork, or fish)
VariationsSeveral across the world
A Lao-style larb ped (with duck) in Chiang Mai
Larb khua mu, a stir-fried northern Thai larb made with pork, in Chiang Mai

Larb (Lao: ລາບ; Thai: ลาบ, RTGSlap, pronounced [lâːp], also spelled laap, larp, lahb or laab) is a type of Lao meat salad[1][2][3] that is the national dish of Laos,[4][5][6] along with green papaya salad[7] and sticky rice.[8] Larb is also eaten in other Southeast Asian countries where the Lao have migrated and extended their influence. Local variants of larb also feature in the cuisines of the Tai peoples of Shan State, Burma, and Yunnan Province, China.[9]


Lao/Isan style[edit]

Larb is most often made with chicken, beef, duck, fish, pork or mushrooms, flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, padaek, roasted ground rice and fresh herbs. The meat can be either raw or cooked; it is minced and mixed with chili, mint and, optionally, assorted vegetables. Roughly ground toasted rice (khao khoua) is also a very important component of the dish. The dish is served at room temperature and usually with a serving of sticky rice and raw or fresh vegetables.[10][11]

Tai Nyuan/Lan Na style[edit]

Phrik lap is the mix of dried spices used in northern Thai larb.

The larb from northern Thailand, larb Lan Na, is different from the internationally more well-known Lao style larb. The northern Thai larb of the Tai Nyuan/Khon Muang (northern Thai people)[12] does not contain fish sauce and is not sour, as neither lime juice nor any other souring agent is used. Instead, the northern Thai version uses a mix of dried spices as flavoring and seasoning which includes ingredients such as cumin, cloves, long pepper, star anise, prickly ash seeds and cinnamon amongst others, derived from the location of northern Thailand's Lan Na Kingdom on one of the spice routes to China,[13] in addition to ground dried chillies, and, in the case of larb made with pork or chicken, the blood of the animal. The dish can be eaten raw (larb dip), but also after it has been stir-fried for a short time (larb suk). If blood is omitted from the preparation of the stir-fried version, the dish is called larb khua (Thai: ลาบคั่ว). There is also a kind of larb called larb luat (Lao: ລາບເລືອດ) or lu (Thai: หลู้). This dish is made with minced raw pork or beef, raw blood, kidney, fat and bile, and mixed with spices, crispy fried onions, fresh herbs and other ingredients. Larb and its other variations are served with an assortment of fresh vegetables and herbs, and eaten with glutinous rice.[14][15][16][17][18] This version of larb is thought to have originated in the town of Phrae, in northern Thailand.[19] This style of larb can also be found in parts of northern Laos.


Saa (Lao: ສ້າ) is a larb-like dish with the meat sliced thinly, rather than minced.[20] A similar dish exists in Vietnam known as bo tai chanh.

Nam tok[edit]

Nam tok (Lao: ນ້ຳຕົກ, Thai: น้ำตก) is a Lao and Thai word meaning 'waterfall'. The name is derived either from the dripping of the meat juices during the grilling or from the juices running out of the medium rare beef as it is sliced. It refers to a popular Lao meat dish in both Laos and Isan, where it is commonly known as ping sin nam tok (Laos) or nuea yang nam tok (Thailand). This dish can be regarded as a variation on the standard larb, and is made from barbecued pork or beef, usually the neck, which is sliced in bite-size pieces. The meat is then brought to a boil with some stock to create sauce. The heat is turned off, and then sliced shallots, ground roasted rice, chili powder, lime juice, and fish sauce are added, along with shredded coriander leaves, spring onions and mint leaves.[21]

Health risks of consuming raw[edit]

Raw beef larb, Chiang Mai

The risks from eating raw meat include contracting trichinosis, caused by an infectious worm, along with fatal bacterial or potentially rabies infection.[22] The consumption of raw larb and lu made with raw pork has led to several cases of human Streptococcus suis infections in Thailand, some of them with a deadly result.[23]

The consumption of raw freshwater fish can lead to an infection by Opisthorchis viverrini (Southeast Asian liver fluke), a parasitical flatworm that can live for many years inside the human liver. Northern Thailand, where certain fishes are consumed fermented, has the highest recorded rate of medically untreatable cholangiocarcinoma.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hutton, Wendy (2007). Green Mangoes and Lemon Grass. ISBN 9780794602307. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. ^ Southeast Asia on a Shoestring. Lonely Planet Publications. 2010. p. 82. Retrieved 21 January 2015 – via Internet Archive. laap laos.
  3. ^ Schlesinger, Christopher; Willoughby, John (June 2009). How to Cook Meat. ISBN 9780061913730. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  4. ^ Bruce Kraig, ed. (9 September 2013). Street Food around the World: An Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. Colleen Taylor Sen. ABC-CLIO. pp. 311–. ISBN 978-1-59884-955-4. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  5. ^ Minahan, James (2010). The Complete Guide to National Symbols and Emblems. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-34500-5. Retrieved 21 June 2021.
  6. ^ Webb, L.S.; Roten, L.G. (2009). The Multicultural Cookbook for Students. EBL-Schweitzer. ABC-CLIO. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-313-37559-0. Retrieved June 26, 2016.
  7. ^ Schulz, Daniela; Drescher, Stephanie (24 May 2017). "Papaya salad with shrimp, Laos". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  8. ^ Ives, Mike (1 February 2011). "A Taste of Sticky Rice, Laos' National Dish". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2021-06-21.
  9. ^ "Laab Mu - Tai Koen People Style". Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  10. ^ Laos in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. 2007. p. 55. Retrieved 21 January 2015 – via Internet Archive. lao larb.
  11. ^ "Isan Meat Salad (Larb)". Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  12. ^ "History of Laos - Lonely Planet Travel Information". Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  13. ^ "Andy Ricker of Pok Pok Explains Thai Laab". SoundCloud. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  14. ^ "Lanna Food: Phrik lap". Northern Thai Information Center. Chiang Mai University. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  15. ^ "Lanna Food: Lap kai". Northern Thai Information Center. Chiang Mai University. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  16. ^ "Bangkok Post: The world windows to Thailand". Bangkok Post. Archived from the original on May 6, 2012. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Lanna Food: Lu (mainly blood mixed with some spices)". Northern Thai Information Center. Chiang Mai University. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  18. ^ "Lanna Food: Lap pla". Northern Thai Information Center. Chiang Mai University. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  19. ^ "Laap country - Austin Bush Photography". Archived from the original on 2014-10-30. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Laap (ลาบ), Saa (ส้า), Luu (หลู้), gaawy (ก้อย), Nam Dtohk (น้ำตก)—an Ethno Culinary Journey". Thaifoodmaster. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  21. ^ Hanuman. "Laap (ลาบ), Saa (ส้า), Luu (หลู้), gaawy (ก้อย), Nam Dtohk (น้ำตก)—an Ethno Culinary Journey". Thaifoodmaster. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  22. ^ Winn, Patrick. "This Thai dish is so delicious, it just might kill you". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2018-01-16.
  23. ^ "16.12.2010 - Infection by raw meat". b-safe. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  24. ^[not specific enough to verify][permanent dead link]

External links[edit]