Spicy Beef Larb with Coconut Rice

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Hands down one of the most popular recipes from my book last year was the Chicken Larb Bowls! They are SO flavorful and easy to make! So I’m calling it now, this Spicy Beef Larb with Coconut Rice situation is going to be right up there with the chicken one!

Spicy Beef Larb with Coconut Rice from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Larb is a dish that is a staple of both Laos and Thailand. The Laotian version of Larb uses fish sauce and the Thai version omits the fish sauce and relies more on spices. The version below is by no means super traditional – but it’s incredibly flavorful and after seeing you guys various versions of it for years on end, I know we’re all obsessed.

This Spicy Beef Larb situation has been calling my name recently! 1: it’s got the coconut rice which is without a doubt better than ordinary rice. 2: the spice beef mixture is incredibly flavorful and crispy which is V important in life. And 3: there are cooked cucumbers in this which are quite possibly the most genius thing I’ve ever tried.

Spicy Beef Larb with Coconut Rice from www.whatsgabycooking.com (@whatsgabycookin)

Bon Appetit posted a Spicy Beef and Cucumber recipe recently and I was like whaaaaaat…. tell me more. Cooked cucumbers. Game changer. They are the perfect cool and calm accompaniment to the spicy beef and the coconut lime rice. Mix it all together and you’re going to be obsessed. Hello Spicy Beef Larb!

Spicy Beef with Coconut Rice

4.9 from 14 votes
Spicy Beef with Coconut Rice – literally what your weeknight dinner dreams are made of!! And don't skimp on the cucumbers!!
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Asian
Servings 4 people


For the Spicy Beef

  • 3 Persian cucumbers
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 2 red Fresno chiles finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoons sambal oelek
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup fresh herbs mint, basil, scallions and cilantro
  • Lime wedges

For the Coconut Rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoons white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 lime zested and juiced


  • Gently smack cucumbers with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy pot until they begin to break apart. Tear into bite-size pieces.
  • Heat oil in a large cast iron over high heat. Add beef and break apart using a wooden spoon and season with salt and pepper. Cook, undisturbed, until bottom side is browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Break up meat with a spatula and stir to cook the other side, about 5–7 minutes more.
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, sambal and Fresno chiles to the beef and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add shallot and smashed cucumbers and cook, tossing occasionally and scraping up any browned bits, until cucumbers are softened and translucent, about 4 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in vinegars, water, soy sauce, and sugar. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until sauce is reduced slightly, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Spoon beef and cucumbers over bowls of coconut rice and top with herbs and lime wedges.

To make the coconut rice:

  • Place the water, coconut milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan, and warm over medium-high heat until the mixture starts to simmer. Add the rice and bring back to a low simmer. Cover the pot with lid, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, undisturbed, for about 15 minutes, then turn off the heat and let the rice steam for another 5 to 10 minutes. Uncover, fluff, and season with the zest and juice of 1 lime.


You can tone down the spice level by using different or less of the chilis or spices. However, I think pairing it with the coconut rice does a great job of cooling things down.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 851kcal | Carbohydrates: 87g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 43g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 81mg | Sodium: 1197mg | Potassium: 800mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1474IU | Vitamin C: 37mg | Calcium: 111mg | Iron: 6mg


  1. This sounds absolutely divine! I cannot get enough the coconut rice, and these cucumbers sound like the next best thing!!

  2. Been making laarb gai (chicken salad) since I spent a month in Laos years ago. Love the flavours and can’t wait to try this. Your photo doesn’t look like ground beef – more like steak. Can you comment?

  3. Love you, love your show! Why beat and break apart cukes as opposed to just slicing? Love the chicken larb recipe in your cookbook. This seems a little different and I can’t wait to try it.

  4. Are the fresno chilies absolutely necessary? They’re not very easy to find where I live? Can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. Hi gabi! Big fan… I have a couple of questions:
      1) can you use coconut cream for the rice?
      2) can you omit the oelek sauce or substitute it for something else?

      Thank you!

    2. Coconut cream is a little thicker but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work! And you could use sriracha!

  5. 5 stars
    We LOVE this and have made it several times. I love making it for an easy entertaining dish because it is relatively fast and easy but super unique so it’s usually a new / fun dish for people to try.

  6. This looks amazing! I make lots of your recipes to feed my 5 hungry teenagers and it’s always a success. I have a question though…..They like a little spice, but not a crazy amount of spice. What would you recommend I cut, or cut down on, to lessen the spice, but not lose too much of the essence of the dish? Thanks! jo

  7. 5 stars
    So easy and delicious!! I subbed a jalapeño for the Fresno chili’s and added most of the herbs in with the meat. Don’t skip the cucumbers!!

  8. 5 stars
    This is a top 3 favorite recipe for my husband and me. We have it once a week and is a non-negotiable…seriously. You have to make this.

  9. 5 stars
    LOVE this recipe!! I help out a recently widowed dad by cooking for his sons when he isn’t home and theY devoured it!! After they ate the last morsel they, in union agreed this meal made them happy. Thank you Gaby!! ❤️

  10. 5 stars
    Wow!!! I absolutely loved this dish! It will definitely be taking a top spot in the regular meal rotation. I added minced ginger and used jalapeño peppers. The coconut rice…mmmmmmm! My prep time was a bit longer than 5 minutes but other than that, this recipe was on the money Gaby!!! So, so delish!

  11. OMG this dish was soooo amazing ! I ate this for 2 days and hid it from my family ! Four of us here social distancing. . My 2 sons 1 27 working from home and my 18 year old doing classes via zoom for college. My husband is an essential worker working 6 days. This was really best tasting dish I ever made hands down!! Making again tomorrow for my birthday! It will be a different Bday this year but grateful we are all healthy!❤️

  12. 5 stars
    OMG this dish was soooo amazing ! I ate this for 2 days and hid it from my family ! Four of us here social distancing. . My 2 sons 1- 27 working from home and my 18 year old doing classes via zoom for college. My husband is an essential worker working 6 days. This was really best tasting dish I ever made hands down!! Making again tomorrow for my birthday! It will be a different Bday this year but grateful we are all healthy!❤️

  13. My wife and I enjoyed this one on a Wednesday night. The dish was flavorful and a nice touch of spice. The mint and herbs really tied this thing in. The prep time took about 15 minutes because I mis en place’d the ingredients on this one. We were really hesitant to include the Persian cucumbers but we did it and it added a really nice crunchy texture to the dish. We tend to do that with Asian dishes because of the amount of ingredients. Overall we are going to make this one again.

  14. 5 stars
    Really tasty dish! I made this on the fly and did not have cucumbers, I chopped up zucchini and some sweet and spicy pickles instead and it totally worked. My fiancé enjoyed it as well and he is not afraid to be honest!

  15. Super easy, super delicious! I used Beyond Beef as a sub and it worked wonderfully. I would absolutely make it again!!! Thanks for such a great recipe Gaby!

  16. 5 stars
    Obsessed. Spicy and sweet and perfect. Reduced sambal a little for the 11 month old’s portion, and he loved it too!

  17. 5 stars
    This was amazing!! My picky husband loved it and I had so much fun beating up cucumbers lol. I couldn’t find Persian Cukes so I substituted 2 big English ones and couldn’t find Red Fresnos so I used Serrano chiles, that was the only change.

  18. 5 stars
    Had some defrosted ground beef and no plan so when I found this and had all the ingredients, score. Did not disappoint! Full of flavor and super easy.

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