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vegan miam

Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad)

I have spent the past week cleaning, unpacking and organizing stuff and making different vegan mac and cheese dishes; at some point I will stop making them after my upcoming Philadelphia trip. I always longed for mac and cheese and the ingredient nutritional yeast whilst traveling. Nutritional yeast wasn’t a popular ingredient in Buenos Aires. Tonight, we fly to Philadelphia and we are looking forward to dining at The Vedge and other eateries.

One of the Lao/Thai dishes that I’ve been wanting to veganise and make is lap – a savory, sour and spicy salad made with any sorts of raw or cooked meat, tofu or mushrooms, and packed with fish sauce, lime juice, fresh herbs, chili, and ground toasted rice (known as khao khua). There are several alternate spellings for the dish depending on the regions in Thailand and Laos: larb, laap, larp, lahp, lap and lahb. The title of my dish “Lap Tao Hoo” (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad) is inspired by the “Lap dtow hoo kub hed” (Sour, Salty and Spicy Minced Tofu Salad Mixed with Roasted Rice Powder) at Pun Pun Vegetarian (Chiang-Mai, Thailand), the best lap I’ve ever had. It’s downright spicy, sour, not sweet, and savory, and full of flavors! And this fabulous lap happened – tastes exactly like it!

Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad)

For the Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad) recipe, I used firm tofu. If you’re not a fan of tofu, use ground seitan, jackfruit or mushrooms instead of tofu. However, the seasonings in the recipe are a must to have! The lap is usually served with an assortment of fresh julienned or sliced vegetables and freshly steamed glutinous or regular rice. Or use them as fillings for collard wraps.

Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad)


Ground Dried Thai Chili Peppers

First, let’s start with ground dried Thai chili peppers. It is one of the main ingredients in the lap dish. They are available at most Asian supermarkets. I used JHC Dried Thai Chili available on Amazon.com.

It’s very simple to ground the chili peppers: in a pan over high heat, add dried chili peppers. Keep stirring until slightly charred on all sides. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, grind them into a fine powder (you may see some seeds and skin, it is optional to remove these for ground powder). Handle chili peppers with caution and transfer to a bowl and set it aside. You will have extra if you like very spicy lap.

After cooking in the pan: slightly charred dried Thai chili peppers in a mortar bowl

The result: ground dried Thai chili peppers. It is a better alternative to “dried chili flakes” and they became our favorite “spicy” condiment.



Vegan Fish Sauce


Another main ingredient in the lap dish is fish sauce, but vegan. View the full recipe + post here (gluten-free option available). It is one of my favorite homemade Asian condiments, I’ve used it in variety of Thai and Vietnamese dishes that call for fish sauce.

Rika's The Brilliant Vegan Fish Sauce



The Rest of the Ingredients



Clockwise from top left: Firm tofu, a small bowl of sliced shallots (soon will be fried & crispy), lemongrass rounds, chopped mint leaves, ground toasted rice, ground dried Thai chili peppers, a big bowl of sliced shallots, fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro leaves in the centre.

Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad)

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the vegan fish sauce:
2 tablespoons raw cane sugar (Turbinado)
¼ cup filtered or spring water
¼ cup canned pineapple juice
2 tablespoons light soy sauce* (Gluten-free option available, see Notes below)
For the ground toasted rice:
3 tablespoons uncooked rice (glutinous, sticky, jasmine or white)
Coffee grinder or mortar & pestle
For the ground dried Thai chili peppers:
4 dried Thai chili peppers
For the fried shallots garnish:
3 tablespoons shallots, peeled and finely sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons or more rice bran oil
For the lap:
2 (14-ounce) firm tofu, pressed overnight (up to 8 hours)
2 tablespoons rice bran oil
3 ounce (or ¾ cup) shallots, peeled and finely sliced lengthwise
3 tablespoons lemongrass stalk, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
½ cup + 2 tablespoons vegan fish sauce (see above)
½ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
1½ teaspoons ground roasted Thai chili peppers (see above), plus more for spicier version
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped
2½ - 3 tablespoons store-brought or homemade ground toasted rice (see above)

Preparation

    Make fish sauce:
  1. In a large bowl, stir the water and sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Add the pineapple juice and light soy sauce and mix well. Refrigerate in a glass container or jar with a lid for an hour. You will use all of it in this recipe.
  2. Make ground toasted rice:
  3. In a pan over high heat, add the rice and keep stirring until slightly dark brown and toasted. Set aside to cool. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, grind toasted rice into a fine rice powder. Transfer to a bowl and set it aside.
  4. Make ground dried Thai chili peppers:
  5. In a pan over high heat, add dried chili peppers. Keep stirring until slightly charred on all sides. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder, grind them into a fine powder (seeds and skin will be visible, it is optional to remove these for ground powder). Handle chili peppers with caution. Transfer to a bowl and set it aside. You will have extra if you like very spicy lap.
  6. Make fried shallots garnish:
  7. Make sure your sliced shallots are patted dry. In a microwavable bowl, add enough oil to cover the shallots. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring every minute until shallot turns slightly golden in color. Let them stand for 1 to 2 minutes in the hot oil and transfer them to a paper towel-covered bowl. Set aside to cool.
  8. Make laap:
  9. Break up the tofu blocks into small crumbles with your hands, resembling ground "seitan."
  10. In a large saucepan, over medium heat, cook rice bran oil and tofu for 3 to 4 minutes or until thoroughly cooked. Using a wooden spatula, break up tofu into smaller crumbles if there are still big lumps.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat immediately. Add the freshly sliced shallots and lemongrass rounds as quickly as possible and gently stir to combine. Add vegan fish sauce, sugar, lime juice and ground dried Thai chili peppers. Stir to combine. This is a mildly spicy dish. For medium heat, add additional ½-1 teaspoon, or very spicy, add additional 2-3 teaspoons to taste. Make sure you stir before tasting.
  12. Add the cilantro and mint and gently toss together. Garnish with fried shallots and toasted rice powder shortly before serving. Serve it with an assortment of raw vegetables, freshly steamed glutinous or regular rice. Or use them as fillings for collard wraps.

Notes

Add ¼ cup shredded carrots for a bit of texture.

I use this brand, Pearl River Bridge Superior Light Soy Sauce. It is GMO-free and contains no artificial colors. They are available at Asian markets or via Amazon.com. Light soy sauce is different than low-sodium or lite soy sauce, it is saltier than the soy sauce.

Gluten-Free Option for Vegan Fish Sauce: Instead of 2 Tbsp. light soy sauce, use 1 Tbsp. GF tamari, 1 Tbsp. GF chicken-free broth (Edward & Sons ) and additional 1 tsp. turbinado sugar. You want it to be slightly saltier and lighter.

Don't like Tofu? Use ground seitan or meat alternative, jackfruit or mushrooms instead of tofu.


Serve the Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad) with raw julienned carrots and cucumbers, topped with fresh mint leaves and fried shallots.


Or use the Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad) as fillings for collard wraps. It doesn’t have to be collards, it can be lettuce, kale, etc. It’s easy to prepare collard wraps. Cut off the stems at the base of each leaf and soak few leaves in a big baking pan of warm water and a bit of apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice) for about 3 to 4 hours at room temperature until soft and tender. Rinse and dry the leaves off with paper towels. Using a sharp paring knife, lay the leaf flat, carefully slice the “thick stems” (but leave the spine on) off the back of the leaf so as to make the collard leaf flatter and easier to roll. Use the discarded stems for your juices -mmmm!

Have you tried lap (or larb) before or do you have a favorite spicy, sour and savory dish? Have you been to Thailand or Laos before?


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52 Comments on “Lap Tao Hoo (Spicy Minced Tofu Salad)”

  1. 1 Katrin said at 1:21 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    Oh wow, another wonderful recipe. Thanks so much for sharing! I never had vegan fish sauce before. I need to give it a try!
    Save travels, dear!

  2. 2 homemadelevity said at 1:50 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    So excited you’ve veganized larb! I’ve never had a veg version and this looks so bright and fresh. The perfect balance of flavors. Can’t wait to try!

  3. 3 Andrea said at 7:51 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    I took a raw Thai cooking class and we made larb. It was delicious — now you’ve reminded me about it and I have to go look for the recipe. Your version sounds fantastic, and I love the fish sauce recipe. (The link to the post doesn’t work, though.) Hope you have a terrific trip to Philly. Can’t wait to see your photos.

  4. 4 vegan miam said at 9:06 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    Thanks Katrin xxx

  5. 5 vegan miam said at 9:06 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    Thank you Andrea, I will check the link :) I can’t wait to try Vedge :)

  6. 6 Kristen Kelley said at 10:00 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    I’ve never had larb, but any time you can put spicy and tofu in the same sentence, I’m there.

  7. 7 Julia@JuliasAlbum.com said at 11:31 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    I love Thai flavors and spicy food! This salad looks amazing, and it’s making me hungry right now, in the middle of the night. So cool that you were able to make it vegan!

  8. 8 Sarojini said at 11:44 pm on November 12th, 2013:

    Amazing recipe, thanks :) My whole family loves tofu…

  9. 9 Jan @ Sprouts n Squats said at 2:34 am on November 13th, 2013:

    Never been to Thailand but I have had Larb before and loved it. This recipe looks so beautiful and I am loving all of the photos, you are so talented at photography and it inspires me to want to get better with mine too :)

  10. 10 coconutandberries said at 3:24 am on November 13th, 2013:

    Hope you’re enjoying being home! It must be lovely to be back cooking in your own kitchen.
    I’ve never heard of this dish before but your version looks super yummy.

  11. 11 Kelly @ Life made Sweeter said at 4:02 am on November 13th, 2013:

    I love spicy tofu dishes but have never tried lap before. It looks awesome and the flavors sound wonderful! Wishing you safe and happy travels Rika!

  12. 12 TheHealthyMaven said at 6:36 am on November 13th, 2013:

    I’ve never tried lap or been to thailand or laos before but I would love to! This recipe looks fantastic and the pictures are gorgeous as per usual.

    Enjoy your mac and cheese adventures :)

  13. 13 Jessie said at 7:37 am on November 13th, 2013:

    I’ve never heard of lap before, although based on the description I think I’ve eaten it at least once. I like the idea of using jackfruit in this dish! Of course, as you might expect, jackfruit is hard to find out here in the middle of nowhere, IL (tragedy!). Love the collard wraps!

  14. 14 vegan miam said at 7:46 am on November 13th, 2013:

    It’s also larb or Thai/Lao minced tofu salad if that sounds familiar :) Me too, I would love to use jackfruit in this dish, but same here it is hard to find them unless canned at the Asian supermarkets.

  15. 15 vegan miam said at 7:47 am on November 13th, 2013:

    Awww many thanks Jan, you’re so sweet xxx

  16. 16 Dixya Bhattarai RD said at 11:09 am on November 13th, 2013:

    never heard of lap or been to those countries but this is something I would loveeeee right now. I am not too crazy about jackfruit but tofu would do.

  17. 17 TamiNutmegNotebook said at 11:21 am on November 13th, 2013:

    Thank you for the recipe for fish sauce – I was wondering what a substitute for a vegan recipe would be. I wonder if you could freeze the leftover fish sauce in an ice cube tray to have it on hand for future recipes? I have never heard of lap before – I learn something new nearly every day!

  18. 18 Pure Ella said at 3:08 pm on November 13th, 2013:

    Looks great!
    I kinda have to laugh at the “best lap I’ve ever had” ;) my dirty mind wants to add “dance” do that line ;)
    Yummy looking recipe… it’s nice to see a refreshing recipe with tofu ;)
    Best wishes for more happy travels! xo

  19. 19 kitchenriffs said at 4:00 pm on November 13th, 2013:

    Lap is new to me. Really interesting dish – love the flavors. So I know I’d like it. Thanks for this.

  20. 20 Johanna@Green Gourmet Giraffe said at 4:22 pm on November 13th, 2013:

    Wow this sounds really interesting – I have heard of larb but not sure if I have eaten it – would love to try this – wish my mint hadn’t died off or I would almost have all the ingredients ready – though I shake in horror at the photo of all those ground chillis – too much for me :-)
    Johanna @ http://www.gggiraffe.blogspot.com

  21. 21 Abegail Tudela said at 4:36 pm on November 13th, 2013:

    Wow this looks absolutely delicious. I am sure that my boyfriend will love this dish. He loves Thai food and especially when its spicy. I am looking forward to trying this. I too love Thai food but haven’t tried making it myself.

  22. 22 Ellie@fitforthesoul said at 8:14 pm on November 13th, 2013:

    Nice job!! The recipe seems so crazy detail I wish I had half of your skills :D And I don’t think I’ve tried Lap Tao before~although I do loooooove Thai cuisine (what don’t Iike?) and will be on the lookout for this dish the next time I eat at a Thai restaurant.

  23. 23 Irina @ wandercrush said at 1:22 am on November 14th, 2013:

    I love the flavours in lap. The vegan fish sauce is genius and I’m definitely making some to try soon. Really lovely veganization of this dish, Rika! Can’t wait to try it next time I’m missing Thailand.

  24. 24 Cadry said at 5:59 am on November 14th, 2013:

    This looks so good, especially imagining all the contrast of flavors and textures. I’ve never seen rice bran oil before. Do you think it’s essential to the flavor of the dish? Or could I replace with another kind of oil?

  25. 25 Cailee Joy said at 6:20 am on November 14th, 2013:

    Wow!! This looks so yummy and nourishing!! :) Thanks girl!

  26. 26 Shundara@savynaturalista said at 8:15 am on November 14th, 2013:

    I am obsessed with fish sauce! Every time I tell my self I am going to make Kimchee I end up buying a bottle and never using it for kimchee but everything else. I am looking forward to the Philly photos can’t wait :)

  27. 27 sonja @ vesenmork said at 10:56 am on November 14th, 2013:

    I would love to go to Thailand. That’s definetely on my must-travel-to list (together with a dozen other places). One problem though: I’m a total wuss when it comes to eating spicy food, and using 4 chili’s? ay no. But the dish looks beautiful, perhaps I would make a light-on-chili version and I probably would add a few more raw veggies as well, because as you probably know by now, I love my raw veggies :)

  28. 28 cquek said at 9:14 pm on November 14th, 2013:

    great dishes for the holiday season. i love thai food.

  29. 29 flickingthevs said at 11:04 am on November 15th, 2013:

    Another dish I’ve never tasted, but pretty sure I would love – those spices are some of my favourites. I sometimes find lemongrass a bit fibrous – am I just picking old ones?

  30. 30 Amy @ Elephant Eats said at 12:09 pm on November 15th, 2013:

    Fish sauce is one of those ingredients that I love but that I forget to use (probably becaues my husband, sadly, isn’t a huge fan of asian food). This dish sounds great…i’ve heard of the version with ground chicken i think, but never with tofu. Looks almost identical!

  31. 31 Hannah said at 6:45 pm on November 15th, 2013:

    There’s a world of new flavor in this dish! I’ve never had anything like it before, since authentic Thai food is near impossible to find around here, let alone vegan options. I just have no experience with the cuisine, sadly, but I’m endlessly intrigued. I must start with this promising recipe right here, clearly!

  32. 32 Kiran @ KiranTarun.com said at 7:49 pm on November 15th, 2013:

    THis is so delicious!! I love tofu salads with delicious fresh ingredients like lemongrass and mint. It’s just so fresh and comforting :)

  33. 33 Koko said at 4:31 pm on November 17th, 2013:

    Asian salads are always so cool, and surprising. I remember first trying a papaya salad in Thailand and being blown away by the flavours…and the HEAT! Man, that was spicy. Very cool recipe! I like your vegan fish sauce- I usually just substitute tamari.

  34. 34 Amy Tong said at 10:35 pm on November 18th, 2013:

    Your spicy minced tofu salad sounds amazing. I gotta check out that vegan fish sauce too. hm….I want a bowl of this salad right now. :D

  35. 35 Bandhna said at 6:33 am on November 19th, 2013:

    That looks amazing! Really like how you made your own chilli flakes! :)
    xx
    B

  36. 36 Rosa said at 11:45 am on November 19th, 2013:

    A unique salad! Refined, fresh and succulent.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  37. 37 Kristin said at 1:37 pm on November 19th, 2013:

    I love this!! It looks so delicious, and I love the idea with the collard wrap. I have been getting bored with my tofu ways, so I need to switch it up anyway! :)

  38. 38 Sophiesfoodiefiles said at 9:22 am on November 20th, 2013:

    Waw, ….. What a fantastic tasty salad! My lunch for tomorrow,…OOOh yes!

  39. 39 vegan miam said at 3:58 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Yay, can’t wait to see it! Hope you love the spicy lap salad!

  40. 40 vegan miam said at 3:59 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Thanks Kristin – there are so many ways to use tofu! Whats your favorite tofu dish?

  41. 41 vegan miam said at 3:59 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    It’s spicier than the dried chili flakes! :)

  42. 42 vegan miam said at 4:00 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Thanks Koko, the fish sauce has to be quite salty & a bit sour & pungent, which is why I had to make that version!

  43. 43 vegan miam said at 4:01 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    You can ground 1-2 chili for mildly spicy – not too hot salad. 3-4 is just in case for super spicy foodies!

  44. 44 vegan miam said at 4:02 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Rice bran oil is used extensively in Asia for cooking because of its high smoke point :) They fry things very well.

  45. 45 vegan miam said at 4:03 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Thanks Irina, let me know what you think of the vegan fish sauce, can’t wait to see what you use it for since there are so many dishes that require fish sauce.

  46. 46 vegan miam said at 4:03 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    I made the lap this summer :) which was why mint was available. :( I want mint now :)

  47. 47 vegan miam said at 4:05 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    Great question, Tami, I never froze my Asian condiments before, but the ingredient pineapple juice is perishable. I would recommend making it fresh for a dish you want to make, and refrigerate for a few days.

  48. 48 vegan miam said at 4:06 pm on November 22nd, 2013:

    I don’t like jackfruit either, but I love marinated jackfruit (i.e., BBQ, spicy, curry, etc) in a sandwich or wrap or in a macrobiotic bowl!

  49. 49 Natalya @ Mom's Dish said at 9:13 pm on December 5th, 2013:

    So healthy and heavenly!!! I love it

  50. 50 Amélie Gagné said at 6:25 pm on March 28th, 2014:

    Oh god, YES. I just had this in Thailand and it was heavenly. I had to look for a recipe online, and BAM. This sounds amazing. Will totally make it when I return home!!!!

  51. 51 Khao Yai National Park | Mostly Amélie said at 7:22 pm on March 28th, 2014:

    […] tofu on hand, and the meat could be substituted for tofu in all the dishes, including a delicious laab, which I have been dreaming about ever […]

  52. 52 vegan miam said at 11:44 am on March 29th, 2014:

    The lap is really tasty, I hope you like the recipe! <3


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