Food and Entertaining

Binging With Babish: Larb From Spider-Man: Homecoming

“Thought you loved Larb!” “It’s too Larb-y?” “Not Larb-y enough?” “You know, I ‘Larb’ you.” *plate clatter* “Sticky rice pudding.” “Well, we didn’t order that.” “It’s on the House.” “Oh… Thanks!” “That’s nice of them.” “Think he ‘larbs’ you. *airy chuckle*” BABISH: Heywhazzupguys? Welcome back to “Binging with Babish.” Where this week, we’re taking a look at Larb from “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” A dish that I didn’t really know existed until I saw the movie But I’m so glad I did, because this stuff is tasty. Unfortunately, to make authentic Larb, You need to get your hands on some Thai glutinous rice. (Whoops, left the price tag on there. That’s rude.) I’m just gonna open this up Steve1989 MRE style, from the back, and this bag, unfortunately, lacks a gusset. But it still manages to stand up on its own. Look at that. N I C E ! And then this stuff is heading into a dry skillet. Because we’re making Khao Khua, which is basically just toasted, finely ground, Thai sticky rice. This recipe comes courtesy of Mark Wiens, a veritable fountain of knowledge of all Southeast Asian cuisine. The basic idea here is that we want to dry roast these grains for about 15 to 20 minutes over a medium-low heat Until they resemble grain or barley, but be sure to keep it moving the whole time so it does not burn. Once it’s done, we’re gonna remove it from the heat and allow it to cool completely before we pulverize it into powder. You can use a high-powered blender like a Vitamix to do this But the old-fashioned way is to use a mortar and pestle just keep cranking it up and down ’till it feels nice and good ( ͡~ ͜ʖ ͡°) Why is everybody laughing? But no, seriously, we want a powder that has granules small enough that they don’t get stuck in your teeth But large enough that they still retain some crunch So just pestle it until it resembles very coarse sand. Now, we got to negotiate our Larb accoutrements: one small shallot, a few scallions, some fresh mint, some–eugh–cilantro and some fresh lemongrass. We’re just gonna thinly slice the shallot, thinly slice the scallions, and then we’re going to very finely chop the lemongrass; We want to chop it as finely as possible because this stuff is kinda tough. Make sure all your herbs are washed and dried and then we’re just gonna keep them whole, making sure to get all the stems out of our devil’s lettuce. And, there we go, all of our mise is en place. So, let’s take it over to the stove-top, where we are heating a few tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering, adding 1 lb of ground pork and taking it on a quick trip to Browntown, adding the lemongrass during the last minute of cooking. Once it is fully cooked and broken down into bite-size pieces, we are removing it from the heat and, only then, are we starting to add other stuff. First up a few generous pinches of Thai chili powder You can of course use a pinch of regular chili powder If you’re in a pinch. [badumtish] Next up, an even smaller pinch, like 1/8 tbsp, of sugar, a good splash, or about 1/2 a tbsp, of fish sauce, a very healthy double squeeze of lime juice, acidity is an essential part of this dish to offset the richness and heat, And then, our pre-prepared vegetables: our thinly sliced shallots and green onions, a bunch of mint leaves that we’re gonna leave whole, because it’s nice to get them in like every other bite or so, and then a generous couple tablespoons of our Khao Khua. Which, if you can’t find or you don’t want to make, it won’t ruin the dish but it really does take it to the next level. Mix it all together, taste it for seasoning, add salt if necessary, But I’m gonna add a little bit more of this toasted rice powder —‘cuz this stuff rocks– and this could be served with sticky rice or papaya salad, but in the movie it looks like it’s being served with lettuce So I’m just gonna pile this up here and make me some little lettuce wraps And, of course, the final most essential ingredient: lots and lots of cilantro. A.K.A. The biggest problem that I’m gonna have traveling through Southeast Asia one day. Protip: Leave the cilantro in big chunky pieces So you can pick it off super easy when the cameras aren’t rolling and your audience will never know the difference. *Ha hah…* Then just grab yourself a lettuce wrap and dig on in. I gotta say: this stuff rules. It’s got complex flavor, It’s nice and spicy, it’s got a nutty kind of crunch from the toasted rice powder, and it’s not too Larb-y or under Larb-y It’s just larb-y enough. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go finish these off without altering them in the slightest. Once those have been entered into the Clean Plate Club™, It’s time to start thinking about dessert. I’m no Marissa Tomei so nobody’s gonna bring me sticky rice pudding for free, so I got to make my own. First, we are soaking three cups of sweet sticky rice in about four cups of water, MAH-saging to break up any clumps, covering and letting sit at room temperature for at least 6 hours up to 24. After that, it’s time to get cookin’. Uncover the rice and strain it. And then, it’s time to tackle the tricky question of how to steam rice without a rice steamer. Well, a good trick is to get a few inches of water boiling in a large pot, place the rice in the colander right over the water and then cover up with the lid of the pot. I thought this was gonna let too much steam escape, but it turned out to be, actually, a pretty effective way to steam the rice. We’re gonna cook this for about 30 minutes total, opening up after 15 minutes to give it a nice stir, make sure that everybody’s getting even exposure to the steam, covering up again and letting cook until tender and shiny. It’s during this time that we’re going to make our sweetened coconut sauce. Into a small sos’pin [saucepan] goes 16 oz of coconut milk, which we’re going to heat to about 200 degrees before adding 3/4 of a cup of sugar, killing the heat, and tiny whisking to combine. Set that aside and keep it warm while the rice finishes cooking, Then, once the rice is ready, we’re gonna put it into a large bowl and then while it’s still warm We’re going to pour about half of our coconut sauce over top. Give that a good mixin’ to make sure that every last grain is ~saturated~. and then we are covering and letting those flavors get to know each other for about 20 minutes We want the rice to soak up a lot of that coconutty goodness And we want it to stay a little warm for serving. While that chills out, we’re gonna prep a mango by peeling it. And then mangoes have a long, thin, oval-shaped pit, so, we’re gonna cut around that, which is gonna leave us with two nice little domes of mango that we can cut into thin slices and arrange decoratively upon a plate. This rice would also probably taste really great with bananas or pineapple or peaches But mango is traditional. Now that the rice is ready, I’m going to scoop it into a ramekin that I’ve lined with plastic wrap, invert it onto its designated plate, and lift it to reveal the beautifully mo- no… well… the molded rice pudding, topped with lots and lots and lots of coconut sauce, and make sure to serve extra on the side. (You’re going to want it.) Garnish with a bit of optional mint, And there you go: Thai sticky rice pudding is cold and hot and sweet and sticky and I totally Larb it. [Bababish] [Music: Broke for Free – Summer Spliffs]
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