Vietnamese Lamb with Scallion Rice (Paleo, Whole30)

I sing the General Public song “Hot You’re Cool” when I make this dish.

It’s the yin/yang of Vietnamese cooking!

Vietnamese meals balance the five flavors (sour, bitter, sweet, spicy, salty), colors (green, red, yellow, white, black), nutrients (carbs, fat, protein, minerals, water), and the five senses—all while paying attention to the contrast between hot and cool. In this recipe, “hot” is represented by the lamb and jalapeño, while the mint, cilantro, and lime juice are “cool.” So cool, they’re hot.

Vietnamese Lamb with Scallion Rice

Serves 2–4 | Total time: 30–35 minutes

Scallion Rice:
  • 1 large head cauliflower

  • 4 scallions

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 cup fresh cilantro

  • 1 cup fresh mint

  • 2 limes

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/2 medium jalapeño

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1/4 cup cashews

  • garnish: 1 cucumber, 2 carrots


Preheat the oven to 425F.


Make the cauliflower rice. Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice, about 10 pulses. You may need to do this in batches. Thinly slice the scallions and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the cauliflower, olive oil, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Toss with a rubber spatula until the veggies are coated in oil. Spread the mixture on a large, rimmed baking sheet and pop it in the oven. (It’s OK if the temperature hasn’t reached 425F yet.) Roast for 20–25 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and starting to look toasty. Rinse the food processor with water, then slice the cucumber and shred the carrots; set aside.


Prep the lamb seasonings. Coarsely chop the cilantro and mint. Place the herbs in a medium mixing bowl and squeeze the juice from the limes into the bowl. Add the fish sauce, sugar, and pepper. Finely mince the jalapeño and add it to the bowl, then mix with a fork and set aside.


Cook the lamb. Warm a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. Crumble the lamb into the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it is just pink, about 3 minutes. While the lamb cooks, peel and crush the garlic cloves, then add them to the pan; continue to cook until the meat is browned and sizzling. Remove the pan from the heat and add the herb mixture. Stir until combined. Chop the cashews.


To serve, divide the rice among individual serving bowls and top with the lamb and a sprinkling of chopped cashews. Garnish with raw veggies.

You Know How You Could Do That?

To transform this dish into Thai larb instead, replace the lamb with ground pork, reduce the cilantro and mint to 1/2 cup each, and add 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.

Cookup Tips

Prep the cauliflower rice in advance and store it in an airtight container in the fridge. When it’s time to eat, roast the cauliflower rice and proceed with the lamb.

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