Lap Mu (Northeastern Thai Pork Salad)

There are different variations on lap (which you'll also find called larb, laap, and other transliterations) a meat salad that originated in Laos and is also popular in Thailand, particularly northeastern Thailand. This recipe is for Lap Mu, a northeastern Thai pork salad, is at first sour then salty, with acidity from lime, salinity and umami from the fish sauce, and nutty depth from the toasted rice powder. It comes together in just under half an hour — serve it with wedges of green cabbage, green beans, and rice, if desired.

Lap Mu
Photo: Photo by Fred Hardy II / Food Styling by Ruth Blackburn / Prop Styling by Christina Brockman
Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
25 mins


  • ¼ cup Thai glutinous rice

  • 1 (1/4-inch-thick) slice galangal, finely chopped (optional)

  • 2 ounces shallots, thinly sliced

  • 2 tablespoons nam pla (Thai fish sauce), divided

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice, divided

  • ¾ pound ground pork (20% fat)

  • ½ cup water or no-sodium chicken broth

  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

  • ½ cup thinly sliced culantro leaves or roughly chopped cilantro leaves and stems

  • ½ cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish

  • 16 green beans, trimmed, for serving (optional)

  • 4 thin (1/2-inch-thick) wedges green cabbage, for serving (optional)

  • 4 cups cooked Thai sticky rice or jasmine rice, for serving (optional)


Prepare the toasted rice powder:

  1. Toast rice in a medium skillet over medium-low heat and cook until medium brown and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Stir rice every 30 seconds to ensure it browns evenly. Immediately transfer rice to a heatproof bowl to cool completely before grinding in a mortar or a spice grinder to a coarse powder. Set aside.

Make the salad:

  1. Toast galangal in a large skillet over medium-high heat until dry to the touch and fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

  2. Add shallots, 1 1/2 tablespoons of the fish sauce, and 2 tablespoons of the lime juice to bowl with galangal; stir to mix.

  3. In the same skillet over medium heat, add pork and water and cook, breaking meat with the blunt end of a spatula into tiny pieces, until no pink remains, about 6 minutes. Transfer cooked pork and juices to the bowl with dressing.

  4. Add 2 teaspoons of the reserved toasted rice powder and toss everything together while the meat is still warm. Taste to check if you need the remaining fish sauce and lime juice; salad should be sour first, then salty. Correct seasonings as needed, then add red pepper flakes to taste.

  5. Stir in culantro and mint leaves. Transfer salad to a serving platter and, if using, arrange cabbage wedges and green beans alongside. Sprinkle the remaining 1 teaspoon of toasted rice powder over salad and garnish with more mint leaves, if desired. Serve warm with rice.

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