The omission of traditional toasted rice powder, palm sugar, and crispy fried shallots will cost this larb adaptation any claim to authenticity. But fear not: simplicity doesn’t make it unflavorful. Shiitake mushrooms add a welcome hit of umami in lieu of the classic pork, while fish sauce, lime juice, and lemongrass make for a fragrant, punchy sauce. Served in butter lettuce leaves, this is an easy, healthy, and fast Thai-inspired weeknight meal. Note that the halibut burger is fairly wet after thawing, so we recommend placing the meat in a sieve and gently pressing on it to strain out any excess liquid.
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nuoc nam or nam pla)
1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
1 pound halibut burger, thawed and excess moisture removed Available in Our Seafood Subscription Box
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola, grapeseed or sunflower
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced or grated lemongrass
¼ teaspoon minced bird’s eye chile
½ cup finely chopped shiitake or cremini mushrooms
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Butter lettuce leaves, for serving
½ cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as cilantro, scallions, mint, and/or Thai basil
Chopped roasted peanuts, sliced chilis, and lime wedges for serving
Prepare the Sauce and Fish
In a small bowl, combine the lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside. Place the burger meat in a fine-meshed sieve and gently press to remove any excess liquid.
Make the Larb
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, shallot, lemongrass, and minced chili and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and soft, about 1 minute. Add the halibut burger and mushrooms and cook, breaking up any large pieces of fish with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and just beginning to brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Stir the fish sauce mixture into the halibut burger mixture until well-combined, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. When the liquid has mostly been absorbed, remove the larb from the heat and set aside until slightly cooled. Taste and season with salt if needed.
Finish and Serve
Arrange lettuce leaves on a wide, shallow platter. Top with the larb, herbs, peanuts, sliced chilis, and a squeeze of lime juice and serve.
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Pair it Up
Pour something cold and refreshing with a little acidity to balance the sweetness and spice of the larb. For wines, look for an off-dry riesling, sauvignon blanc, or a semi-sparkling txakoli. For beers, go for a Belgian-style witbier.
Level It Up
For traditional larb: toast 2 tablespoons uncooked glutinous rice (sticky rice) in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown and nutty-smelling. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind into a coarse powder. Incorporate half into the mixture just after step 3, and use the rest as a topping. You can also top with crispy fried shallots, available at many well-stocked markets or online.
Change it Up
Fold leftover larb into noodles, stir-frys, or fried rice dishes.
Lighten It Up
This dish is as light as it gets. Serve with a light and refreshing green papaya salad for added nutrition.