Thai-Inspired Vegan Larb is a quick, meat-free take on the traditional dish. These vibrant and flavorful lettuce wraps take less than 30 minutes to prepare and make a great appetizer or main course. With onions, peppers, garlic, fresh herbs, and seasoned seitan, enjoy as a low-carb dish, or serve with rice. Not in the mood to eat with your hands? Spoon all of these delicious components into individual serving bowls, and dig in!
There’s a Thai restaurant in my hometown called Surin. It’s a very popular spot that’s been around for probably close to twenty years. I ate there regularly before meeting Mark, and we even went there on our first date! In those pre-vegan days, one of my favorite dishes of theirs was the chicken larb appetizer. I loved the lightness of the lettuce and fresh herbs, plus all the savory seasonings and just the right amount of spice.
Why it hasn’t occurred to me until now to make a vegan version is beyond me! Recently I came across a simplified, weeknight recipe for larb at bonapetit.com. Of course, it’s not vegan, but this was also while I was working on my Homemade Seasoned Seitan recipe. So a veganized version of their larb was an easy first choice for putting all of that seitan to use.
Garnishes for this quick, weeknight larb – pickled onion!
No kidding, one of my favorite parts of this dish is the quick-pickled red onion. So simple yet SO right. Thinly sliced onion marinates in a few tablespoons of rice vinegar while you prep the rest of the meal. By the time dinner is ready the onion flavor has softened, their texture is still crunchy, and these colorful ribbons provide an acidic kick that pulls the entire dish together. If you’re a fan of pickled foods, don’t be surprised if you soon find yourself putting these quick-pickled onions on everything!
Fresh cilantro and mint are also huge stars in this dish. A handful of chopped peanuts sprinkled on top is nice but not required. Toasted cashews would also be delicious.
Ingredients in Thai Vegan Larb
As I mentioned, this is sort of a simplified, Thai-inspired recipe based on the one from Bon Appetit. It’s missing authentic components of Thai or Laotian larb (besides the meat). But even still, it’s so delicious and easy to throw together that I think you’ll love it!
Here’s a rundown of everything you’ll need:
- 1 large red onion
- a few tablespoons of rice vinegar
- 1 pound of seasoned seitan – You can make this in advance or use store-bought.
- 2 or 3 spicy chiles or peppers – Thai birds eye chiles are more traditional but may be difficult to find. Jalapeño peppers are abundant here right now, so that’s what I used.
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 3 green onions
- 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil for sautéing
- 2 tablespoons of soy sauce – adjust depending on the saltiness of your seitan
- 1 to 2 teaspoons of sriracha -depending on how much you like heat and whether your peppers are very spicy
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 lime
- small handful of cilantro
- small handful of mint
- 1 head of lettuce; Boston and Bibb work well. But if you’re serving this in bowls, any type of lettuce will do.
How to make Vegan Larb
First, wash the vegetables, and crumble the seitan in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor you can also mince the seitan with a chef’s knife.
Thinly slice half of the onion. Place it in a shallow bowl and cover it with a few tablespoons of rice vinegar. Chop the other half of the onion, thinly slice the peppers/chiles and green onion, and mince the garlic.
Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, and sauté the onion and peppers/chiles for a few minutes.
Next, add the crumbled seitan to the pan, and saute for a few more minutes or until it starts to brown.
Stir in the green onion and garlic, and cook for another minute or two.
Add the soy sauce, sriracha, and maple syrup, and stir to combine.
Once everything is hot, turn off the heat, and prep your lettuce cups, cilantro, mint, and lime wedges. You can either squeeze the lime right into the pan or onto individual servings….. or both!
Garnish each lettuce cup with the chopped herbs, pickled red onion, and peanuts, if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Fresh, quick, healthy, bright, tangy, and savory! There are SO many things to love about Vegan Thai Larb. Have fun adjusting the ingredients to suit your taste, and don’t be afraid to add other elements. This dish would also be lovely made with tofu or tempeh.
If you try this Vegan Seitan Larb, I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, and give it a star rating to let us know how it turned out. Enjoy!
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Thai-Inspired Vegan Larb
- 1 large red onion
- 3 to 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 pound seitan, crumbled
- 1 to 2 Tbsp oil
- 2 or 3 jalapenos, seeded, thinly sliced Or use a more traditional spicy chile such as Bird's Eye.
- 3 green onions, sliced (white and green parts)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 to 2 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar
- 1 head lettuce, Boston, Bibb or butterhead
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- fresh cilantro, leafy parts, roughly chopped
- fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/3 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
- To make the pickled onion: thinly slice half of the red onion. Place sliced onion in a shallow bowl and cover it with a few tablespoons of rice vinegar. Set aside.
- Prep: Chop the other half of the onion, thinly slice the peppers/chiles and green onion, and mince the garlic.Crumble the seitan in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor you can also mince the seitan with a chef's knife.
- Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, and sauté the onion (the half that's not pickled) and peppers/chiles for a few minutes or until the onion is translucent.
- Add the seitan, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through and slightly browned.
- Next, add the green onion, garlic, soy sauce, sriracha, and maple syrup, and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
- Once everything is hot, turn off the heat, and prep your lettuce cups, cilantro, mint, and lime wedges. Squeeze some fresh lime juice into the skillet and/or serve lime with individual servings.Spoon larb into the lettuce leaves, and garnish with chopped herbs, pickled red onion, and peanuts, if desired.