2 tablespoons glutinous or jasmine rice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
500g mushrooms (I used Swiss brown, shiitake, oyster and enoki)
3 tablespoons peanut or plain oil
¼- 1 teaspoon minced chilli or chilli flakes
2 small eggplants
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon black or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon liquid honey
1 large or 2 small shallots or 1 small red onion, very finely sliced
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1 cup coriander leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup Thai basil leaves
¼ cup dill fronds (optional)
limes and sticky rice, to serve

This plant-based larb is full of all the punchy, herby flavours of a traditional larb. It does call for fish sauce so if you are vegetarian then use vegan fish sauce. You can use any mix of mushrooms you like, just separate them into the ones that take a bit more cooking such as button, brown, field or portobello, and the ones that cook very quickly such as enoki and oyster.

Toasted rice is essential to larb and glutinous is best although jasmine is fine, too. If you have any makrut lime leaves or tough outer lemongrass stalks you can add a few for extra flavour and take out before grinding. Traditional larb is very hot: if you are cooking for people who aren’t good with chilli, you can add ¼ teaspoon of chillies and serve a bowl of chilli flakes to add extra heat to personal taste. I toast and grind my own chilli flakes from whole dried chillies, for extra freshness.

If serving more than four people as part of a larger meal, you can chop the cooked eggplant and stir through the larb with the herbs.

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1.Heat the oven to 200°C fanbake.
2.To make the ground toasted rice, put the rice in a wok or frying pan and toast over a low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, tossing regularly until golden.
3.Cool the rice then place in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Set aside.
4.In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice and set aside.
5.Finely chop the button, brown, field or portobello mushrooms.
6.Chop any oyster or enoki mushrooms into larger pieces and set aside.
7.Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in the wok over a high heat and cook the finely chopped mushrooms for a few minutes to start the cooking process, then add the larger pieces and toss for a few more minutes.
8.Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and stir through 1 tablespoon of the rice powder then add the chilli flakes to taste and toss well. Leave to cool to room temperature.
9.Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and place, cut-side up on a baking tray.
10.Carefully score the flesh of each into a 1cm-hatched pattern and brush with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Bake for 10 minutes.
11. In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar and honey.
12.Brush this liberally over the eggplant and bake for a further 5 minutes or until very tender.
13.To serve, stir the lime juice mix into the mushrooms and finally toss through the shallots, spring onion and herbs.
14.Pile on top of the eggplant halves and scatter with more ground rice. Serve with limes and sticky rice.

Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith / Photography Aaron McLean / Styling Jess Hemmings