Laab is a very popular and much loved dish from the Northeastern part of Thailand. It’s simply another variation of the sour and spicy Thai salad, except it’s made a bit more special with toasted rice powder (khao khua or ข้าวคั่ว). The toasted rice powder adds a nice subtle, popcorn-y smell to the salad, absorbs all the flavors and coats the main ingredients, making every bite in your mouth a burst of flavor.
Traditionally, laab is made with a type of ground meat. This can be anything, from pork to beef, duck or chicken. Along with your chosen type of meat, you can also include a few pieces of liver in laab. As laab is mainly meat, it’s usually enjoyed with sticky rice and fresh vegetables such as yardlong beans, cabbage and basil leaves. Eaten in moderation, laab is no doubt one healthy Thai dish.
But guess what? You can enjoy laab even if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. Last week, I went through some meatless Monday recipes and felt like trying a meatless meal. So, I picked up some konjac noodles when I last did my shopping. As konjac noodles have *absolutely* no taste, I knew I needed to turn it into something with a good kick. I then flicked through some old photos on my phone and BAMMM! Laab it was.
In case you’re not familiar with konjac, it’s an Asian plant, and food can be made from its corm. Here in Thailand, konjac is usually sold in different shapes on its own as a carb or meat substitute, or part of diet products because it’s filling and has no calories. In a nutshell, konjac is a no everything food. It’s no carbs, no fat, no protein, no whatsoever, making it a zero-calorie food. Fiber is the only thing you can expect from this food, and this is the reason why it’s blander than bland.
But don’t be put off by the fact that konjac is bland. The good thing about this is that it pairs well with strong, flavorful salad dressings and soups. Besides, its texture is fun to eat. I enjoy konjac’s texture a lot and it’s the reason why I actually eat konjac at all. If you like chewy foods (jelly chewy, not crazy chewy), I think you’ll like konjac noodles.
Speaking of konjac’s different shapes, you get everything from long thin noodles (Shirataki) to noodles tied in knots, or even rice (which appears to be popular in the keto community). Although you won’t have guessed this, the konjac I’m using in my pictures by the brand Moki is actually supposed to resemble “tripe.” To be honest, I think they’re pretty smart there. First, the product does resemble tripe. Second, tripe does have a jelly chewy texture similar to that of konjac. Why am I calling it noodles then? Because it’s easier to get readers like you on the same page with me, and it’s about the same size as penne and can even be eaten with chopsticks! Surely I can call it noodles, right? 😂
Now that I’ve told you everything and you’ve seen the pictures, don’t forget to include konjac noodles on your next grocery list so you can recreate this vegan, healthy dish! Oh, and if you decide you like this konjac salad but you’d like to include some meat in your meal, you’ll love this dish with my Fried Sun-Dried Beef (Nua Dad Deaw). 🙂Print
Vegan Konjac Noodle Laab (Thai Salad) Recipe
A healthy vegan Thai konjac noodle salad (Laab) made special with toasted rice powder.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 1 serving 1x
- Cuisine: Thai
- 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 2½ tablespoons lime juice
- 3 teaspoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons toasted rice powder
- 1 tablespoon chilli flakes
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 3–4 leaves culantro, roughly chopped (This is not the same as cilantro!)
- 200 grams konjac noodles, strained
- In a salad bowl, dissolve granulated sugar in lime juice and soy sauce.
- To the bowl, add toasted rice powder and chili flakes, shallots, culantro, and konjac noodles, and mix. Transfer to a serving plate and serve immediately.
If you cannot find roasted rice powder, simply put white rice in a dry pan and cook over medium heat until it browns. Then, grind in a food processor or pound in a mortar with a pestle.
Keywords: laab, thai salad, vegan salad, konjac noodles
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