Friday, June 10, 2016

Lemongrass Fish Larb Noodles with Chilli Dressing & Five More of My Favorite Donna Hay Recipes!

When I chose to stop buying, cooking, and eating meat and poultry several years ago, I didn't find it difficult to do--however, there are things I still miss. For example, I dropped a partial bottle of liquid smoke when I was putting it back into my pantry the other day, breaking the bottle and spreading the smoky aroma through my kitchen, and then for hours afterward, all I wanted was a classic BLT sandwich. That I still eat fish, eggs, and the occasional shellfish helps add some variety and gives me more choices when eating out, but still, some of my favorite restaurant dishes have gone by the wayside. I've switched out beef yellow curry for veggie or shrimp, however the other mainstay of my Thai order, larb (the delicious ground meat salad that I adore), didn't have a substitute.

That's why this Donna Hay recipe for Lemongrass Fish Larb Noodles with Chilli Dressing is so brilliant and is firmly a new favorite. It replaces the ground beef or chicken in the larb that appears on the average Thai restaurant menu with ground/minced fish, but maintains the same wonderful flavors and, since the fish is sauteed, it has a really similar texture to ground meat. Even better, it's so quick and easy to make that it beats heading out to pick up takeout. 

I made a few small changes to the recipe ingredients based on preferences and what I had on hand--noted in red below.  

Lemongrass Fish Larb Noodles with Chilli Dressing 
Adapted from
(Serves 4)

1/4 cup (60ml) lime juice
1/4 cup (80g) Asian chilli jam
600g (about 1 1/3 lb) skinless firm white fish fillets, trimmed and chopped (I used a mix of local ono (wahoo), kajiki (blue marlin) and mahi mahi)
1 Tbsp finely grated ginger
1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, thinly sliced
4 kaffir lime leaves, stalks removed and finely chopped
2 cups Thai basil leaves
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)
200g (about 8 oz) vermicelli noodles, cooked (I used 8 oz brown rice Pad Thai noodles)

(I added one large carrot, spiralized into spaghetti-style noodles)
3 cups (240g) bean sprouts (I omitted and used about 1 cup pea sprouts)
3 green onions, shredded
micro (baby) mint leaves, to serve (I used small, regular mint leaves)

Place the lime juice and chilli jam in a bowl and mix to combine. Set aside. Place the fish, ginger, lemongrass, lime leaf, half the basil, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until just combined. 

Heat the oil in a large wok or non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the fish mixture and cook, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon, for 2–3 minutes or until just cooked through. 

Divide the noodles among bowls and top with the fish larb, bean sprouts, onion, mint, remaining basil and the lime-chilli dressing.

Notes/Results: Yes, I said it already, but I will say it again--brilliant and a new favorite! This recipe goes together really quickly with the use of a food processor or chopper, looks great, and has all those delicious Thai flavors. I was most impressed with the texture as I thought it would be on the softer side, but once sauteed, the fish has a very similar texture to ground chicken and beef (although it's less greasy--yay!). Also, there is good flavor from the ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime, and Thai basil that is combined with the fish. I really liked the dressing, which with the lime juice and the sweet-spicy chilli jam, has a great balance of flavor. I left out the bean sprouts (just never been a fan of bean sprouts) and put in some pea shoots instead and I also spiralized a large carrot to add to the noodles for a bit of crunch. I used a combination of different local fish--based on what looked good, what was a good, sustainable choice and reasonably-priced, but you could use almost any firm, white fish. I actually plan to marinate, press, and freeze (for a crumbly texture) firm tofu to try a veg-friendly version. You could make this dish work a number of ways--omit the noodles (I used GF brown rice noodles) and shred some cabbage or serve the mix in lettuce leaves/cups, or add different vegetables--whatever you like. This recipe left me happy and satisfied a craving--it's a keeper!

We are celebrating Donna Hay this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs as our Monthly Featured Chef event. I cooked with Donna long before and after we featured her from September 2013-March 2014, and she remains a favorite for her creativity, great recipes that make simple foods/ingredients look spectacular, and her amazing food styling and photography. With about 40 of her recipes posted, it was difficult to pick just a few favorites, but I made myself stick to five. However, I am not sure I have met a Donna Hay recipe that I didn't like a lot, so if you want to see more, click on the Dnna Hay label on my sidebar to find more delicious dishes.

My Favorite Donna Hay Dishes:

If someone were to use force to make me pick my favorite Donna Hay recipe (which would be pretty rude, wouldn't it?!) I would have to pick Coconut and Salmon Laksa from New Food Fast. Often and randomly, I will suddenly think, "I wish I had a bowl of that coconut and salmon laksa right now!" and dream/drool about it--it's so good! Luckily, since Donna uses pre-made laksa paste, this soupy-curry-noodle dish is pretty quick and effortless to make and I have tossed it together many times for myself and others since I tried it. 

Smoked Salmon Sushi Squares from Donna take the pain out of making sushi but deliver on taste, simplicity and 'cool factor' with how they look. Plus, since the salmon is smoked, your raw fish-fearing friends might just eat it. ;-)

These little Prawn & Ginger Dumplings from Flavours were fun, tasty, and relatively easy to make--even for a lazy girl like me! They go together pretty quickly using wonton wrappers and with the dipping sauce, they are a great solution to a sudden dumpling craving! ;-)

Another low-effort but high reward recipe is the Deconstructed Tiramisu from Fast, Fresh, Simple. Much easier than spending time putting the classic dessert together and dipping always gets more "fun points!"

Another recipe I have made several times since trying, is Donna's Cheat's Chocolate-Hazelnut Mousse from Fast, Fresh, Simple. It's so rich and smooth, with just the right amount of sweetness and hazelnut flavor for me--it's there but not overpowering. So easy to make for the lazy person too--just three ingredients, no breaking eggs or melting chocolate.

That's my Top 5--I'd be happy to find them on the menu any time! 

Do you have a favorite Donna Hay recipe? I'd love to know what it is!

You can see what the dishes other IHCC participants made to celebrate Donna Hay this week by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Happy Aloha Friday! 


  1. I'm not familiar with larb but this version with fish and all of those flavourful ingredients looks and sounds delicious. I enjoyed your Donna Hay favourites roundup.....I'm going to have to give the smoked salmon sushi a try.

    1. Thanks Zosia--hope you like the sushi! ;-)

  2. I have a difficult time deciding which of these Donna Hay's dishes is my favorite. That's so hard to do. They are all so incredibly yummy. I'm with you in terms of cutting out meat in my diet. I still eat meat, but infrequently. I don't miss it at all!

    1. Yes, I eat it when I'm with others and it's on the menu but other than the occasional dish or moment I rarely miss it anymore. ;-)

  3. Well now I'll be trying more new things, larb and laksa. Don't know how I've gone this long without either, especially considering all the Thai restaurants I've eaten in. Both sound very tempting.

    1. Yes Claudia, larb and laksa are two good things to add to your life! ;-)

  4. And I am regretting that I got too long winded on my DH post and forgot to mention all my Donna Hay favorites! I remember when you made her laksa and still have it pinned to make under my DH tab. She has such a talent for easy yet sophisticated dishes.

    Glad that you were able to find a tasty (and very pretty) substitute for larb. The fish looks like it did a great job of adding that meaty texture, without the meat!

    1. Oh, that's my favorite part! ;-) Just kidding. Yes, you must make the laksa one of these days. I want to go make it right now!


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