Mushroom Larb

Mushroom Larb

And so, our adventures in vegetarian cookery continue! Mushroom Larb is a vegetarian version of a traditional Laotian dish, and it’s made with oyster mushroom parts that have been cooked in oil, along with plenty of herbs and fish sauce. Traditional fish sauce is a good option for flexitarians, but we’ve also included some vegan substitution ideas down below.


Food from Southeast Asia is some of our favorites. We think that dishes like pad Thai and pho have become as ubiquitous in the United States as pizza and tacos.

Thanks to the many excellent Southeast Asian restaurants that have opened up in our area over the years, we now have some excellent go-to recipes for quick Asian ground meats like Pork Larb and Chicken Larb.

When considering a plant-based diet, however, many popular dishes from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries fall by the wayside. Why? Salsa de pescado (fish sauce).

Fish sauce is the one ingredient that makes it impossible for a vegetarian or vegan to recreate any Southeast Asian dish, even if they manage to go without the meat. Fish sauce has a particular flavor profile that is nasty, fishy, and umami. A few drops can have a profound effect. However, is it essential?


Therefore, we have moved forward with testing vegan alternatives to traditional fish sauce. Even though I am usually the first to extol the benefits of kelp, I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t even one of the top ingredients in the brand we bought, and the flavor was subpar at best. Therefore, what is one to do?

First, while not traditionally included in larb, we found that adding a teaspoon (or more, to taste) of light soy sauce helped level out the umami and taste in this Mushroom Larb when using vegan fish sauce.

Second, after some additional research, I discovered Vegan Fish Sauce from 24Vegan. An online reviewer dubbed it the “Red Boat of vegan fish sauce,” and its owner is a Vietnamese woman.

Even though it’s expensive and contains no kelp, I’m curious. Even though I am not being compensated for this post in any official capacity, I am excitedly awaiting the arrival of my bottle. We’ll let you know how it goes.

Okay, if the specifics of fish sauce haven’t bored you to tears, here’s the recipe.


  • 3 peeled and thinly sliced shallots
  • 3 chopped scallions
  • 1 pound of finely chopped oyster mushrooms
  • 1 juiced lime
  • 1 thinly sliced of Thai bird’s eye chili
  • 1/2 cup of chopped mint
  • 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon of uncooked sticky rice
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon of light soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar


  1. Toast the rice grains for about 10 minutes in a dry wok or skillet over low heat, turning constantly, until they turn brown and aromatic. Prepare a coarse powder by grinding in a food processor or mortar and pestle (a few pulses will do). Set aside.
  2. You should reheat your wok until it is smoking over very high heat. Mix in the oil and the mushrooms. Brown the mushrooms slightly on the edges in a stir-fry.
  3. Then, stir in the toasted rice powder, sugar, fish sauce (or vegan fish sauce), soy sauce (if using), and lime juice.
  4. Add the chili, shallots, onions, cilantro, and mint, and continue to stir-fry for one more minute. Stir-fry for a further minute, then check the seasoning and adjust with more chili, sugar, fish sauce, and/or lime juice as desired.
  5. Serve the Mushroom Larb with sticky rice, steamed jasmine rice, or lettuce leaves they make great accompaniments.

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