Phak gap laap (ผักกับลาบ) is a general term used to describe the herbs, vegetables and young leaves – usually between twenty and forty – that are served with the laap. Many of these can be found near the home or in the fields and forests.
In addition to the season and geographical region, the selection of phak gap laap was shaped by the flavor, aroma and, more important, the medicinal properties of the greens and vegetables. Phak gap laap is assembled from three main groups – aromatic herbs, sour leaves, and bitter herbs, each with its own role in the dish. The aromatics add a pleasant fragrance to counter the gamey taste of raw meat and blood, while the sours complement the taste of laap, and aid in the digestion of uncooked meat. The bitter herbs are believed to cure a wide range of ailments.
Thus, we need to gain a little more insight into Thai traditional medicine before selecting the herbs and leaves to serve with the laap, which is based on ancient wisdom and cooking techniques that have been passed down through generations.