Two self-described headstrong home chefs cook up one special family recipe.
Family recipes are like treasured heirlooms — passed down from generation to generation, they’re filled with memories, meaning and pride. On a recent sunny Fall afternoon, our Creative Director, Tessa, invited us into her kitchen alongside Chan to cook up one of their favorite family recipes: Pork Larb with Rau Ram and a spicy Nuoc Cham sauce.
For the uninitiated, larb is an iconic dish from Laos, bursting with savory pork or chicken mixed with sweet and tangy fresh herbs and citrus. “It’s one of our favorite dishes to make,” says Tessa. “Our family’s version uses rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) which gives it a lemony, peppery flavor. This dish really hits all the notes — sweet, sour, spicy, savory and herbaceous. We often serve it for dinner with coconut rice. It also works as a good light lunch when served with sesame crackers, butter lettuce and sliced cucumbers.”
Tessa grew up cooking alongside her mother and Chan, “it was always so much fun in the kitchen, even though we’re all pretty headstrong cooks!” she says. “It brings me so much joy to cook dishes inspired by my family traditions and travels — especially now, since traveling and entertaining have been put on hold. I find that flavors, aromas, and even little details like table linens can remind you of cherished experiences, and that’s a big reason why we wanted to launch our home collection.”
Although her family cooks often, they like to focus on simple, flavorful recipes. “All you really need, especially if you’re new to cooking, is a good pan, a sharp knife, fresh ingredients and patience,” Tessa says. “Cooking is about persistence, making the same dish over and over and perfecting it, evolving it. The larb is a great example of that.”
“Even though I’ve made this dish countless times I always try to find new ways to change the recipe,” Chan says. "I think that’s where the fun comes from — it’s about discovery instead of measuring everything and following directions to the letter. For me, that’s what cooking is about.”
Pork Larb with Rau Ram and Nuoc Cham Recipe
“A good Asian grocery should have many of the ingredients listed. HMart in LA is one of my favorites and their presentation is beautiful. Rau ram can be a little trickier to find — you can substitute it for cilantro if you’re in a pinch.”
Pork Larb with Rau Ram
— 2 scallions
— 1 white onion
— 1 lime
— 1 lb ground pork (or ground chicken)
— 1 tbsp grape seed oil
— 1 tsp turmeric
— 1 tsp paprika
— 1 tsp chili pepper
— 2 tbsp fish sauce
— 1 bunch of rau ram (or 1 cup cilantro)
— Handful of crushed peanuts
— Black pepper (to taste)
— Fried shallots (these can be purchased at most Asian grocery stores)
— Sesame rice crackers (for serving)
— Mint and cilantro (for serving)
1. Slice white parts of scallion at an angle and chop green parts. Set aside.
2. Thinly slice ½ white onion. Set aside.
3. Heat 1 tbsp of grape seed oil in a pan over medium high. Add white parts of scallion to the pan. Cook until translucent.
4. Add ground pork and cook until about halfway done.
5. Add turmeric, paprika, chili pepper, black pepper and mix thoroughly.
6. Add fish sauce.
7. Continue cooking pork. Once cooked all the way, remove from heat and let cool.
8. Add chopped rau ram, crushed peanuts, 2 tbsp of fried scallions, sliced white onions and toss.
9. Plate and dress with more fried scallions and white onions.
10. Serve with nuoc cham, lime wedges, sesame rice crackers and additional herbs like mint and cilantro.
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— 1 bird’s eye chili
— 1 garlic clove
— 2 tbsp fresh lime juice
— 2 tbsp fish sauce
— 2 tbsp palm sugar
— 6 tsp water
1. Slice bird’s eye chili lengthwise and remove seeds. Finely chop and add to a small bowl.
2. Grate 1 garlic clove into the chopped chili.
3. Add palm sugar – preferably syrup form. If using solid palm sugar, add warm water to dissolve.
4. Squeeze lime juice into chopped chilis, garlic, and sugar.
5. Add fish sauce and stir together.