Local cuisines play important contributions to a perfect traveling. Below is 4 local foods making you lengthen your Laos Vacations.
1. Klao niaw
Rice is an indispensable food in every Laos’ meals. In Lao, each person on average consumes 345 pounds of rice per year, which is more than that in other countries. People can endure long after eating sticky rice since it takes more time for them to digest. Hence, this food is preferable than steam rice. In an agrarian society like Laos, food like sticky rice is a great idea.
Expect to see a small woven basket of sticky rice at every meal. Rolled by hand into small balls, the balls are then dipped into food and sauces like jeow, a dry and non-oily chili paste with a bit of buffalo skin mixed in, and eaten with the fingers.
The recipe of sticky rice is not difficult. All you need is glutinous rice. Soak it overnight. And then wash it several times before steaming in a bamboo basket. When the steaming process pass haft time, gently flip the rice over.
2. Oh lam
Oh lam is a stew originated from Hmong of Luang Pa Bang. Its ingredients are mostly vegetables: beans, eggplants, gourds, black mushrooms, then seasoned with lemongrass, chili, and coriander and finally thickened with sticky rice. Ho or Oh can be translated as “to put in”, implying that this stew is a hotchpot of whatever on hand ingredients. The key ingredient is sa kan, a bitter root herb.
The Sa kan is basically the woody stem of a wild vine and not meant to be eaten. Instead, it can be chewed, which releases the astringent, almost peppery menthol, oils, and then spit out. Sometimes water buffalo or crispy fried pork skin is included. It takes a long time to cook; therefore Oh lam is only made for special ceremonies. It offers a unique, earthy taste you absolutely cannot find anywhere else in Asia.
One of the most famous cuisines of Laos, Laap is a kind of meat salad, which major ingredients are beef, chicken, duck, pork, and fish. Other indispensable ingredients are garlic, herbs, crushed-roasted rice and lime juice.
The protein used in laap can be raw or cooked. The meat was divided among the community, and with no way to store fresh meat, it was eaten immediately. Popular raw Laap is made by fish with lime juice or duck served with blood. Another flavor in Laap is crushed roasted rice grain or kao kua. It can bring this dish fragrance and absorb the moisture from the meat. For those wanting to try the cooked version, let’s order it in a restaurant.
4. Tam mak houng
It is very likely for people to miss this food in Lao because it is quite similar with that in Thailand and Cambodia. There’s existed a controversy around where is the homeland of the papaya salad, Thailand or Laos. However, Lao version is saltier and grittier than the Thai one thanks to bpadek, a fermented fish sauce. The Lao version of fish sauce is made from mudfish. In the Lao version, travelers don’t find the clear amber color like in the Thai or Vietnamese version but a thick, dark opaque and liquid with a strong flavor. Another difference is that palm sugar isn’t added to Lao papaya salad.
A meal of sticky rice, slow-chicken or pork with a side of Tam mak houng is a great idea for a delicious and nutritious meal.