Party food, finger food, nibbles - call it what you like, catering for drinks can often be more labour intensive than cooking a three course meal for eight. So when a friend asked me to bring a plate to his wife's surprise 30th birthday party, I was happy to help out.
There are many bakers of mini-quiche in this town, all of them far more accomplished than me, so I had to come up with another idea. Being the recipe junkie I am, I trawled through my clippings and magazines, developed a shortlist and settled on pork larb.
Larb is a minced meat salad, usually served at room temperature. A quick web search suggests it's a traditional dish of Laos, but it's also a feature of Thai cuisine, in both Thailand and here at home. Indeed, much of the "Thai" food we eat in Australia is often a blend of broader South-East Asian Cuisine.
I'm really not sure how traditional my dish was, but it certainly had typical ingredients: chilli, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime juice, mint and coriander. I found the recipe in a back issue of delicious magazine and the same recipe has been published online by delicious uk.
Drinks were on a Friday night, and this was a fantastic post-work party dish, as I could cook the pork the night before and assemble pre-party. The Australian version of the recipe recommends baby cos leaves. I used both cos and iceberg and I found the iceberg more suitable, with less wastage.
I'd recommend using free range pork mince for the best flavour and don't skip the toasted rice - it's a fantastic looking garnish, is easy to do and surprisingly delicious. Plus it's a key component of traditional larb dishes.