LAO RECIPES

LAO RECIPES

Jaew Bong (Bong sauce): Ingredients: A) 10 dried red chilli peppers, to be grilled slowly until brittle (but do not let them burn and turn black) and then pounded finely; B) 5 (small) shallots; C) 5 (small) heads of garlic fire, then washed and pounded finely (These above two ingredients are to be seared in a charcoal); D) 2 slices of galingale, finely pounded; E) salt and fish sauce; ) chopped coriander leaves; E) 1/2 a strip of dried water-buffalo skin, grilled until done, then scraped smooth, cut into thin small slices and soaked in salt water.[Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing, Royal Cook in the Royal Palace at Luang Prabang; b. 1898, d. 1967 Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Jaew Bong Cooking directions: 1) Pound together, until they are thoroughly mixed, all the previously pounded ingredients. Sprinkle salt on them and add a little water. Mix, and add the pieces of water-buffalo skin. Taste and check the saltiness. If the mixture is too thick, add some boiled water, still warm. 2) Put the mixture on a platter and garnish it with chopped coriander leaves. Serve it with Jee Sin Lod (grilled dried beef-take a long, thin piece of dried beef, say, a foot long and as thick as a finger; cook it by putting it directly into a charcoal fire; then remove it, rub off the blackened parts, beat it to make it tender and cut it up as you wish). Editors' Note. Bong means pickled. This sauce is not, literally, a pickle; but it keeps for a very long time, as pickles do, and that seems to be why it has this name. ||||

Khao Poon Nam Phik (Rice noodles with chilli pepper sauce): First Ingredients: A) 1 small rice-bowl (1/4 pint) of padek-(add 1/2 pint of water and) boil the padek until it is clear when strained. Phia Sing specifies that the straining should be done with a sua pao (part of a coconut tree) and kaen fai (which means cotton seed), but we are not sure just what he meant. A muslin cloth should do. B) 300 grams of pork, free of fat, minced, rolled into a big ball, poached in the padek liquid until cooked, and then taken out of the pot and finely pounded; ) 400 grams of pa nang (a catfish) or pa ked (any fish with scales); ) 1 kilo of pork bones (to make pork broth); C) 10 thin slices of galingale; ) 10 straight - bulbed spring onions, both heads and leaves (salt). Their preparation: Put 2 metal jugfuls (2 pints) of water in a pot, and put the pot on the fire. Put in the pork, the fish, the galingale, spring onions and salt. Boil until the fish is cooked. Take it out, debone it and pound the flesh finely. ||||

Second Ingredients for Khao Poon Nam Phik: A) 15 (small) heads of garlic, the cloves to be peeled and finely chopped, then fried in pork fat until golden, and pounded; B) 15 (small) shallots, (peeled and) thinly sliced, fried until golden in pork fat and then pounded; C) 3 fully grown coconuts, husked and split open-grate the meat with a ka-tai ('rabbit'), put the extraction of coconut milk into a pot and boil it until the liquid is reduced, but without letting the cream separate, then take the pot off the fire; D) salt and ground pepper; E) chopped coriander leaves; F) lime (juice, to taste); G) banana 'flower' sliced into long slices; H) 7 sweet young eggplants, sliced and fried in pork fat; I) 1 bunch of water spinach (phak bong), fried until done and then cut into pieces about 3 centimeters long; J) 13 yard-long beans, fried and cut into pieces 3 centimeters long; K) 6 dried chilli peppers, fried in pork fat until soft 2 na of rice noodles (cooked); L) ) 6 red chilli peppers, grilled until they are soft-then remove the cores and pound the peppers as finely as possible before cooking them in coconut oil until a good aroma arises - do not let the mixture become overcooked or it will turn black (instead of red); M) vegetables to be eaten with the dish. ||||

Cooking directions for Khao Poon Nam Phik: Put the minced pork, the prepared fish, the pounded spring onions and the garlic in a mixing-bowl. Add the padek sauce, previously prepared, and stir until these ingredients are mixed together, then add the pork broth and the (reduced) coconut milk. Stir, taste and check the saltiness. Squeeze in some lime juice. Add the fried mixture of red chilli peppers. Transfer this whole mixture to a big bowl. Garnish with ground black pepper and chopped coriander leaves. (The sauce is now ready.) Put the rice vermicelli on a platter, in the middle. Arrange the cut-up vegetables around it, and place the whole fried chilli peppers on top. Serve the sauce separately. ||||

The recipes from Traditional Recipes of Laos were selected from a much lengthier list of 114 that appeared in the ledgers that Phia Sing, the king's cook, used to compile a record his culinary masterpieces. They reflect older cooking techniques and traditional ingredients found locally, in particular the wide variety of fish found in the Mekong river just below the site of the royal palace, which today is a museum. The manuscript was reproduced in facsimile and provided with an English translation in a book entitled Traditional Recipes of Laos, edited by Alan and Jennifer Davidson and published in 1981 by Prospect Books. The book has since been reprinted in an inexpensive paperback edition with the English translation only. Luang Prabang was where Phia Sing lived and worked; but, as befitted the person in charge of the royal kitchens, his cuisine was almost entirely Lao, and his recipe books contain only occasional references to the culinary practices of other ethnic groups and make only minor use of imported ingredients. ||||

Book: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing (Prospect Books, 1981)

Lao Meat Dish Recipes

Sai Ua Moo (pork sausages): Ingredients: A) 400 grams pork meat, including some fat, washed and minced 150 grams pork fat, washed and minced; B) 2 dried chilli peppers, soaked in water until soft; C) 10 (small) shallots; D) 10 black peppercorns; E) pound the above three ingredients together finely; F) coriander leaves, finely chopped; G) salt and fish sauce; H) 1 pig's intestine, turned inside out and washed and then turned right side out again. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Sai Ua Moo cooking directions: 1) Place in a bowl the pounded ingredients, the minced pork, the minced pork fat and the chopped coriander leaves. Add the fish sauce and mix all together. Take a very small sample portion of the mixture, wrap it in pieces of banana leaf and grill it until cooked. Taste it and check the saltiness. (If this test is satisfactory you can proceed to make the sausages. If the taste of the grilled sample is not right, adjust the seasoning.) 2) Stuff a section of the pig's intestine with the mixture from the bowl, taking care not to include any air bubbles. If there are any, use a needle to let them escape. 3) Tie the intestine into portions as you stuff it, each portion to be 15 centimeters long. There should be two knots between each section with a space in between for cutting them apart. Use a bamboo holder to grill them until they are done. Then transfer them to a platter. 4) Serve with Jaew Bong. ||||

Sa Ton Sin Ngua (beef sa ton): Ingredients: A) 400 grams beef sirloin, sliced into pieces measuring 2 centimeters by 3 centimeters and 3 mm thick, salted and marinated for two hours in the juice of 6 limes; B) 3 stalks lemon grass; ) 2 (small) heads garlic; C) 7 (small) shallots; D) 3 dried chilli peppers; E) galingale (3 to 5 slices); F) The above five ingredients should be sliced into small pieces and mixed together - the result is called kheuang hom - "fragrant spices/herbs;" [hom means 'to smell nice'; kheuang means 'ingredients'.]; G) liver; H) spleen; I) heart; J) tripe; The previous four ingredients are to be boiled in the meat broth, sliced into small pieces and set aside on a plate; K) 1 small bowl (1/4 pint) or padek*; L) salt; M) spring onion leaves; N) fresh coriander; O) Kaffir lime leaves. The ingredients should be finely sliced or chopped. ||||

Sa Ton Sin Ngua cooking directions: 1) Put the kheuang hom into a bowl and add salt. 2) Squeeze out the liquid from the marinated beef, and set the liquid to cook on a low heat. 3) Mix the pieces of beef with the kheuang hom. Add the or padek little by little, mixing the ingredients continuously as you do so. Mix in also half the sliced offal, the reduced liquid from the beef, the spring onions and the Kaffir lime leaves. Mix well. Taste and check the saltiness. Place the mixture on a servingplate and garnish it with the remaining sliced offal and the coriander. Serve with Keng am Duk Ngua. Editor's Note. Or padek is produced by cooking padek until it is almost dry; then adding water and bringing back to the boil; and then straining out any remaining fish bones. The result is a sauce which is used for adding flavour, as in this recipe. ||||

Lao Water Buffalo Meat Recipes

Buffalo and Lemon Grass Sausage Patties: Ingredients: A) 1 pound coarsely ground buffalo or beef chuck (ground by a butcher; do not chop in a food processor); B) 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt; C) 3/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper; D) 1 long green hot chili, finely chopped; E) 3 tablespoons finely chopped lemon grass; F) 1 medium shallot, peeled and finely chopped; G) 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped. [Source: Amanda Hesser, New York Times, July 13, 2005; Amanda Hesser narrates a tour of the cuisine of Laos: nytimes.com/dining <^>]

Cooking directions for Buffalo and Lemon Grass Sausage Patties: 1) In a large bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and form into 2-inch patties. 2) Heat a grill or large well-seasoned or nonstick skillet. Grill or saut?ntil patties are crisp on exterior and no longer pink in center. Serve hot. Yield: 4 servings (about 16 2-inch patties). Adapted from 3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos Time: 20 minutes <^>

Or Lam Sin Kuay ('Or Lam' of Water-buffalo Meat): Ingredients: A) 3 pieces of dried buffalo meat, sliced into smaller pieces and washed; B) 2 strips of dried buffalo skin - cook it by putting it directly into the charcoal fire and then scraping off the burned parts, after which cut it into smaller pieces and soak them in water; C) 3 or 4 (small) shallots, peeled; D) 1 piece of crisp-fried pork skin, sliced into smaller pieces; E) 1 piece of sa-kahn (an aromatic plant) 5 centimeters long-peel off and discard the rough outer skin and divide it into 15 small parts; F) 3 straight-bulbed spring onions; G) 1 stalk of lemon grass-sear it in hot ashes, then wash it and crush it; H) 7 young round eggplants; I) 7 fresh chilli peppers (large ones); J) 1 bunch phak tam ling (an edible leaf); K) 1 bunch of young shoots (stems and leaves) of a chilli pepper plant; L) a considerable amount of sweet basil leaves; L) 1 bunch of dill, chopped; M) a considerable amount of chopped spring onion leaves; ) salt and padek. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Cooking directions for Or Lam Sin Kuay: 1) Put 1 1/2 metal jugfuls (1 1/2 pints) of water into a pot and place it on the fire. Add salt, the crushed stalk of lemon grass, the buffalo meat, the buffalo skin, the shallots, the chilli peppers, the eggplants and the sa-kahn. Wait for all this to come to the boil, then add some padek by using a small-meshed strainer. Leave it boiling until the chilli peppers and eggplants are done - then take out these ingredients, pound them finely and return them to the pot. 2) Next, add the phak tam ling and the young shoots of chilli pepper. Taste and check the saltiness. Then add the crisp-fried pork skin, the chopped dill and the sweet basil leaves. Take the pot off the fire. Transfer the contents to a bowl. Garnish the dish with chopped spring onion leaves and serve it with Som Moo or Som Pa Keng. |||

Note: There is no one definite recipe for Or Lam because there are no fixed rules about how to make it. Some people put in a very large quantity of fresh vegetables and mushrooms, until the dish is more like an Or Phak (a vegetable Or). In fact, there are two types of Or Lam. One is called Or Ro: and this is made by putting in meat or fish and vegetables and mushrooms - everything edible - in large or small quantities. That is why they call it Or Ro. ('Ro' in Lao means to put in. So 'Or Ro' is the result of putting in whatever you have.) The real Or Lam is the one I have explained above. The tastes and smells of the two types of Or Lam are different. |||

Lao Stew Recipes

Beef and Eggplant Stew (Or Lam): Ingredients: A) 6 small Thai (round green) eggplants, 4 of them quartered, 2 of them cut into 8 wedges; B) 1 teaspoon chopped lemon grass, plus 1 1-inch piece lemon grass, crushed; C) 2 teaspoons fish sauce, more as needed; D) 12 ounces beef or buffalo shoulder, thinly sliced; E) Sea salt; F) 3 cups beef broth; G) 5 peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle; H) 2 hot green chilies, halved lengthwise; I) 10 black wood ear mushrooms, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and torn into 1/2-inch pieces; J) 8 green beans, cut into 3/4-inch pieces; K) Handful of pea shoots or watercress; L) 2 scallions, cut into 3/4-inch lengths; M) 12 Thai basil leaves or 8 basil leaves; N) 4 stems tarragon, leaves stripped and stems discarded; O) Fried pork skins (or rinds), crushed lightly. [Source: Amanda Hesser, New York Times, July 13, 2005; Amanda Hesser narrates a tour of the cuisine of Laos:nytimes.com/dining <^>]

Beef and Eggplant Stew Cooking directions: 1) In a medium saucepan, combine quartered eggplants, 1 teaspoon chopped lemon grass, 2 teaspoons fish sauce and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low, and partially cover. Simmer until eggplant is very tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and crush with a potato masher until smooth. Season to taste with more fish sauce, and set aside. 2) Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season beef or buffalo with salt. When pan is hot, add sliced meat and sear for 1 minute on each side. Transfer to a plate. 3) In a large saucepan, combine beef broth and remaining lemon grass. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer. Add peppercorns and chilies. Slice beef into 1-inch pieces and add to broth; simmer for 15 minutes. Add wedges of eggplant and simmer another 15 minutes. 4) Stir in mashed eggplant, mushrooms and green beans. Season to taste with fish sauce. Just before serving, stir in pea shoots, scallions, basil and tarragon. Serve, passing pork skins separately. Yield: 4 servings. Adapted from 3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos Time: 1 hour. <^>

Or Lam Nok Kho (quail stew): Ingredients: A) 1 dried quail, matured until almost mouldy, divided into separate breast and leg parts, washed and put on a plate; B) 7 round eggplants; C) 5 large fresh green chilli peppers; D) 1 stalk lemon grass; E) 3 straight-bulbed spring onions; F) sa-kahn (an aromatic plant), cut into pieces about 5 centimeters long and 1 centimeters thick-about 10 pieces - washed; G) 3 young shoots rattan, cooked by being placed directly on a charcoal fire and peeled so as to leave only the soft part, which is to be cut into pieces 2 centimeters long and washed; H) 1 bunch phak tam nin (all edible leaf), picked over, keeping only the leaves and tops, which are to be washed; I) dill, washed and cut into pieces about 2 centimeters long; J) spring onion, the green parts, cut into pieces about 2 centimeters long and washed sweet basil leaves, washed; K) 1 piece of crisp-fried pork skin, cut into squares of 1 centimeters and put on a plate padek; L) salt; M) 2 yard-long beans, cut into pieces about 2 centimeters long. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Or Lam Nok Kho Cooking directions: 1) Put 2 metal jugfuls (2 pints) of water in a pot and place it on the fire. Add the prepared bird, the eggplants, the chilli peppers, the spring onions, the lemon grass, the sa-kahn and salt. Cover and let it boil. Add the padek in a padek basket suspended in the soup. When the eggplants and the chilli peppers are done, spoon them out and pound them. Put this mixture back in the pot. When it returns to the boil add the phak tam nin and the yard-long beans. When all is done, add the pieces of pork skin and the chopped coriander leaves, taste and check the saltiness. 2) Serve in a bowl, garnished with the chopped spring onion leaves. Accompany the dish with young cucumbers and older eggplants and other fresh vegetables (e.g. salad leaves, watercress, etc.). ||||

Note: In cooking this Or Lam, you can also add Duk Moo Sam La (pork bones which have been kept for some time in the broth) if you fear that it will not be 'nua' (flavoursome enough). You may also add other kinds of vegetables (when you are cooking the stew), but be careful not to use too many because the Or Lam Nok Kho will then turn into Or Moo (Pork stew) or Or phak (Vegetable stew). ||||

Or Bon Waan (Stew made with sweet bon): Bon is the name of a plant, but it may be applied either to bon waan - a general name referring to any bon which is sweet and edible-or to bon kan, an itchy or scratchy bon, which should not be eaten since it will cause puffing and itching of the skin. Sweet bon in its cultivated form is taro.

Or Bon Waan Ingredients: A) a piece of three-layer pork, cut into strips about 3 centimeters thick and 1 centimeters wide; B) a handful of bon waan (i.e. presumably a bunch as sold in the market, about five stalks) - peel off the outer skin, but do not wash the bon - if it is dirty, use a clean cloth to remove the dirt; C) 2 pieces of dried buffalo skin - put them in a charcoal fire until they are a bit burned on the outside, then scrape off the burned part, cut the pieces into strips 3 mm wide and soak them in water; D) 3 fresh chilli peppers; E) 2 (small) shallots; F) Seared the above two ingredients in a charcoal fire, then torn into small pieces; G) 1 mak kawk treated like the chilli peppers and shallots; H) 3 slices of galingale; I) sa-kahn - cut a section 3 centimeters long of its (thick) stem, then take off the hard outer skin and divide the section vertically into 10 slices; J) 2 bunches (about 6 sprigs) of dill, washed and chopped; K) 10 jelly mushrooms, washed and divided into small pieces; L) salt and fish sauce; M) spring onion leaves, chopped; N) 1 stalk of lemon grass - sear it in a charcoal fire, then wash it and crush it (with the flat of a heavy knife or with a pestle) just enough to bring out the aroma. ||||

Or Bon Waan Cooking directions: 1) Put 1 1/2 beakers (3/4 pint) of water in a pot on the fire. Add the following: salt, pork, buffalo skin, sa-kahn, fresh chilli peppers, shallots, lemon grass, galingale and mushrooms. When the mixture comes to the boil, add the cleaned bon waan, cover the pot and leave it until the bon waan is completely cooked. Then spoon out the bon waan, pound it, add fish sauce to it and return it to the pot. Add the mak kawk and the dill. Taste and check the saltiness. Transfer everything to a serving bowl, garnish it with the chopped spring onion and serve. 2) The dish should be accompanied by dok nam panya. (This name, which has no English equivalent, refers to Caesalpinia Mimosoides, and means 'thorny flower of the Panya'. The Thai name is phak pu ya, meaning 'grandparents' vegetable'.) ||||

Note: In cooking Or Bon we must be cautious in selecting the bon, since otherwise the dish would cause itching and would be inedible. Different types of bon waan which are popularly used in cooking for their sweet flavour are: Bon tao, whose special characteristic is that the leaves are thicker than those of other types; and Bon kan kam, which one can easily recognise by the colour of its leaves and stems - the colour of which is purplish. Anyway, one should consult those who know these types of bon (before making the dish). As for the common bon with thin leaves, no matter how much people admire its sweet taste, its juice causes itching. ||||

Lao Fish Dishes

Minced Fish Salad (Koy Pa): Ingredients: A) 12 ounces skinless, boneless red snapper, yellowtail snapper or other white-fleshed fish, minced; B) 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, more as needed; C) 1 tablespoon fish sauce, more as needed; D) 1 tablespoon toasted rice powder (available in Asian food markets), or 1 tablespoon uncooked sticky rice, toasted and ground to a powder; E) 3/4 cup green beans, thinly sliced crosswise; F) 1 red chili, thinly sliced; G) 2 tablespoons finely chopped lemon grass; H) 2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced; I) 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic; J) 8 stems cilantro, half the leaves chopped and half left whole; K) 8 stems mint, half the leaves chopped and half left whole; L) 1 scallion, green tops only, sliced; M) Sliced cucumber, watercress, and additional cilantro, mint and green beans, for serving. [Source: Amanda Hesser, New York Times, July 13, 2005; Amanda Hesser narrates a tour of the cuisine of Laos: nytimes.com/dining <^>]

Cooking directions for Minced Fish Salad: 1. In a small bowl, combine fish, lime juice and fish sauce. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. 2) If necessary, drain fish. In a mixing bowl, combine fish mixture, rice powder, sliced green beans, chili, lemon grass, sliced garlic, minced garlic, cilantro, mint and scallion. Toss to mix well. 3) To serve, place fish salad in a serving bowl. Serve with cucumber, watercress and additional cilantro, mint and green beans offered separately. Yield: 4 servings. Adapted from 3 Nagas, Luang Prabang, Laos, Time: 5 minutes, plus 2 hours for marinating. <^>

Sousi Pa Gnon (hot dish of small catfish): Ingredients: A) 6 pa gnon - scrape off the mucus from the skin, gut the fish, cut off and discard the heads and tails, wash the fish and salt them; B) 1 fully grown coconut, split open-grate the meat and squeeze two extractions of coconut milk from it, keeping the first extraction separate from the second one-quantity, one soupbowl of each; C) 2 dried chilli peppers soaked in water; D) 7 (small) shallots, peeled; E) Pound the above two ingredients together in a mortar to make your kheuang ham; F) salt and fish sauce; G) Kaffir lime leaves; H) spring onion leaves, chopped coriander leaves, chopped ground black pepper. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Sousi Pa Gnon Cooking directions: Put the first extraction of coconut milk in a wok on the fire until it becomes creamy. Then add the kheuang ham and fry it until it gives off a good aroma. Add the fish gently, stir thoroughly, then add fish sauce and the second extraction of coconut milk. When the fish are cooked, taste and check the saltiness. Add the Kaffir lime leaves. Transfer to a serving-dish, garnish with the chopped spring onion leaves and coriander and ground black pepper, and serve. ||||

Keng Tom Yum Pa Kho (Fish soup made with snakehead fish and chopped lemon grass, etc.): Ingredients: A) 1 snakehead (the fish known as pa kho) - scale it, gut it, slice it into pieces about 2 centimeters long, wash these and put them on a plate; B) 1 stalk lemon grass, chopped crossways; C) 2 (small) heads of garlic, (the cloves peeled and) chopped; D) 5 spring onions, bulbs only, chopped; ) coriander leaves, chopped; ) rice - 1 large 'pinch' (about 1 tbsp); E) ground black pepper, fish sauce and salt. ||||

Cooking directions: Put some water and salt in a pot on the fire. When the water has come to the boil, add the fish and rice. When the fish is cooked, add the fish sauce and chopped lemon grass, garlic and spring onion. When these are cooked, taste and check the saltiness, then transfer everything to a serving-bowl, garnish with the coriander leaves and the ground black pepper, and serve. Note: If you like the dish sour, squeeze some lime juice on it. ||||

Pon Pa Leum (dish of pounded catfish): Ingredients: A) 1 piece of pa leum (a large catfish), free of bones, the size of a hand-wash it, slice it thinly, put it in a pot with water barely covering it, sprinkle it with salt and fish sauce (it should be quite salty), boil it until cooked, then take the pot from the fire; B) 6 sweet young round eggplants; ) 2 (small) heads of garlic; ) 4 (small) shallots; C) 3 fresh chilli peppers; D) These four ingredients above are to be cooked in the embers of a charcoal fire, then peeled and pounded together to constitute the kheuang hom; E) 1 straight-bulbed spring onion-chop both the bulb and the leaves finely; F) 1 sprig of coriander, chopped; G) 2 Kaffir lime leaves, chopped; H) salt and fish sauce. ||||

Pon Pa Leum Cooking directions: Combine the boiled fish with the kheuang hom in a mortar and pound together finely. Then add the water in which the fish was cooked and stir until the mixture is thick (i.e. like a thick soup). Add the spring onion and chopped Kaffir lime leaves. Do not let the mixture become either too thick or too runny. Taste, and check the saltiness. Arrange the mixture on a platter, garnish it with the chopped coriander and serve it with Keng Som (a sour soup), young cucumbers and other vegetables which are suitable accompaniments. ||||

Lao Minced Meat and Fish Recipes

Lap Pa Keng (Minced Raw Fish): Ingredients: A) 1 pa keng, scaled, gutted and washed - keep the intestine, if it is clean, and eggs, if any, wrap them together in pieces of banana leaf and grill them on the fire until cooked-take half only of the flesh of the fish, wash it and chop it finely - put the fish skin in the soup until it is just enough cooked, then take it out and chop it into small pieces. B) 5 sweet young round eggplants - place them on a charcoal fire until their skins are burned, but do not let the seeds inside burn - then place them in a bowl; C) 3 dried chilli peppers-grill them until soft; D) 3 (small) heads of garlic-sear them on a charcoal fire; E) 3 (small) shallots-sear them on a charcoal fire; F) 2 slices of galingale; G) Put the above five ingredients in a mortar and pound them all together finely; H) 5 (more small) heads of garlic, chopped and fried until golden, then removed from the pan; I) spring onions, chopped; J) coriander, chopped; K) 1 rice-bowl (1/2 pint) of or padek (cooked); L) 1 medium-sized bowl of nam keng (the liquid part only of the fish soup) salt. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Lap Pa Keng Cooking directions: 1) Put the chopped fish in the mortar with the five pounded ingredients and pound until thoroughly mixed. Add some or padek and salt. Then add some nam keng and continue stirring. Whether it is thick or not is according to your preference. Next, add the chopped fish skin, the chopped spring onions, and the fish intestine and eggs. Taste and check the saltiness. ' 2) Dish up on to a platter and garnish with the fried garlic and chopped coriander. Serve with Keng Som Houa Pa Keng (Sour soup made with the head of a pa keng) and some vegetables. ▪Lap Kai Pa (Minced Wild Chicken): Ingredients: A) 1 wild chicken, plucked, washed and gutted; take the meat from the breasts and legs and chop it finely; take the skin, the liver and the gizzard, wash them, tie them together with thread and cook them by boiling them in broth, then slice them thinly; B) 5 round eggplants, cooked by putting them in the charcoal fire until their skins are burned; C) 3 (small) heads garlic, seared over a charcoal fire; D) 2 (small) shallots, seared over a charcoal fire; E) 3 dried chilli peppers, grilled until brittle; F) 2 slices of galingale; G) The above five ingredients to be pounded together - we call the result kheuang lap, meaning ingredients for the lap; H) 1 rice-bowl (1/4 pint) of or padek; I) 1 medium-sized bowl of broth to which fish sauce has not been added an appropriate quantity of ground khao khoua (uncooked sticky rice, toasted in a hot dry pan, then pounded very thoroughly) a young banana flower, sliced; J) 3 (small) heads of garlic, chopped and fried until golden-brown and giving off a good aroma; K) 3 Kaffir lime leaves, chopped spring onion leaves, chopped coriander leaves, salt. ||||

Cooking directions for Lap Kai Pa: 1) Mix the minced chicken with the kheuang lap. Add salt and the or padek, and mix some more. When the mixture has a sufficiently strong taste of padek, add the broth and stir. Then add the khao khoua and the sliced banana flower. Add also the sliced chicken skin (etcetera) and the fried garlic. Taste and check the saltiness. Arrange the ingredients on a platter. Garnish with chopped spring onion leaves, chopped coriander leaves and the Kaffir lime leaves, also chopped. Serve with Keng Som (any kind of sour soup) and a variety of fresh (raw) vegetables. ||||

Lao Bamboo Shoot and Yam Recipes

Ua No Mai (stuffed bamboo shoots): Ingredients: A) 5 bamboo shoots, which may be no mai lai (Giantochloa Nigrociliata) or no mai bong (Bambusa Tulda) - choose small ones, boil them until they lose their (bitter) taste, then cut off all the hard outer layer and cut the trimmed shoots into sections 8 centimeters long - after this use a needle to make slits in them lengthwise, but leaving the ends of each section intact; B) 7 (small) shallots, pounded; C) 1 piece of pork, including some fat, the size of the palm of a hand, minced; D) 2 eggs; E) salt and fish sauce; F) flour (about 2 tbsp); G) ground black pepper; H) chopped spring onion leaves; I) pork fat. [Source: Traditional Recipes of Laos by Phia Sing. Available from Food Words, Box 42568, Portland, OR 97242-0568 (NY Times 2005) ||||]

Cooking directions for Ua No Mai: 1) Mix together in a large bowl the minced pork, the pounded shallots, ground black pepper and I tablespoonful of the flour. Mix all this thoroughly. Add salt, fish sauce and some of the chopped spring onions. Mix again, taste to check the saltiness, and add more of the chopped spring onion. 2) Stuff the mixture into the slit-open bamboo shoots and wrap these in pieces of banana leaf as you would in making a kanab. Use a bamboo holder to grill the packages until they are cooked, then open up the banana leaf coverings and leave the contents to cool. 3) Heat some pork fat in a wok. Beat the eggs in a bowl with salt and some flour mixed in. Dip the cooked bamboo shoots in the egg mixture and fry them in the hot fat until they are nice and golden. Place them on a platter to serve. ||||

Keng No Mai Sai Yanang (Soup made with bamboo shoots and yanang leaves): Ingredients: A) a bamboo shoot, boiled until it loses its (bitter) taste - if it is a large shoot, cut it into smaller parts of the right size for soup and wash 40 yanang leaves, washed and then put into 2 metal jugfuls (2 pints) of water and rubbed until they are all broken up - the liquid is then strained through a fine white cloth (or through a strainer) and left in a pot. B) 2 soupspoonfuls of sticky-rice flour; C) 5 (small) shallots, pounded; D) 2 pieces of the dried skin of a pa leum (a large catfish), grilled until 'puffy' and then cut into smaller pieces; E) 20 small eggplants; F) chopped spring onion leaves; G) sweet basil leaves; H) salt and fish sauce; I) 1 stalk of lemon grass, placed in glowing charcoal embers and ashes and then washed. ||||

Cooking directions for Keng No Mai Sai Yanang: 1) Put the juices obtained from the yanang leaves in a pot to boil. Add the pieces of bamboo shoot, the dried fish skin, the sticky-rice flour, the pounded shallots, the lemon grass and salt. Put the lid on the pot and leave it to come back to the boil. Then add the fish sauce and eggplants, cover again and leave to boil again. When it is done, taste and check the saltiness. Garnish with the chopped spring onion leaves and the sweet basil leaves and put in a (large) bowl to serve. Note: One should not put fresh meat in Keng No Mai (Bamboo soup), because it will then have an animal odour. If dried fish skin is not available, dried water-buffalo skin or dried water buffalo meat can be substituted. As for the sticky-rice flour, one may use kneaded cooked sticky rice instead. ||||

Yum Kai Tom (boiled chicken yam mixture): Ingredients: A) 1 chicken, plucked-split open its underside and pull out the intestines; remove and cut open the gizzard, and strip it of its lining; wash the chicken and the gizzard thoroughly, and put them with some salt and (peeled) shallots in a pot, with water to cover the chicken (but no more), and boil until the chicken is tender. B) (1) young cucumber, peeled and quartered lengthways-then cut the pieces into slices of suitable size; C) 2 large, ripe tomatoes, dipped in hot water (for a minute), peeled, halved and sliced lengthways, discarding the centre part and the seeds; D) 2 straight-bulbed spring onions, chopped-both the bulbs and the leaves; E) 2 large fresh red chilli peppers, cut across into halves, sliced lengthways, cored and soaked in water; F) 5 (small) shallots; G) 2 (small) heads of garlic; H) These two ingredients above are to be almost, not completely, cooked by placing them in the embers of a charcoal fire, and then (peeled and) sliced across; I) 3 sprigs of coriander, chopped; J) salt, fish sauce and ground black pepper; K) a lime. ||||

Cooking directions for Yum Kai Tom: Take the boiled chicken out of its pot and transfer it to a large bowl. Tear off the breasts and legs and remove all the meat from the carcase. Break the legs and the wings at their joints. Tear the breasts into suitable large pieces, and do the same with the legs and the wings. Then add the sliced or chopped ingredients (kheuang soi), except for the spring onions and coriander, to the bowl (of chicken). Sprinkle them with salt and add some of the chicken broth, just enough to keep the mixture moist. Then sprinkle it with fish sauce (and the juice of the lime). Mix thoroughly, taste, and check the saltiness. Sprinkle ground black pepper and the chopped spring onion leaves on top, arrange on a platter and garnish with the chopped coriander. ||||

Image Sources:

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Laos-Guide-999.com, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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