Lao cuisine

Generally speaking, laap is made from minced meat, raw or cooked, to which – depending on the type of laap and the region in which it is being created – different ingredients and seasonings are added. Laap is prepared much like a salad, by mixing together all the ingredients, including minced meat, internal organs, other meat cuts, spice blends, seasonings and herbs. It is served accompanied by a diverse assortment of vegetables, young leaves and herbs. There are two main styles of laap – laap from Lanna, and laap from Isan. The Lanna version, known as laap muang (ลาบเมือง), features a rich blend of dry spices, resulting in a mildly spicy, pungent, salty and aromatic dish. Neither lime juice or ground roasted rice is used in laap muang. The seasoning blend for laap muang is called naam phrik laap (น้ำพริกลาบ), and contains sought-after spices that were originally imported to the region by trade caravans from India and China.

A marvelous Luang Prabang style fish salad recipe (Koi Pla), which is very easy to prepare and even though it looks simple, its flavors are complex and clever.

Fresh fish fillet is sliced into thin strips which are quick blanched in lemongrass infused boiling water – a cooking method that presenting it’s natural flavors with an uplifting citrusy notes. The white fish slices are then mixed with, deep golden brown caramelized mix of fried garlic, shallots and lemongrass, which are not just visually pleasing but also add a unique sweetness and richness to the dish.

In 1833 Prince Mongkut, who later became King Rama IV, found a square stone inscription, known today as “The Ramkhamheang’s Inscription”, believed to be written 541 years earlier, in 1292, by King Ramkhamheang – the third king of The Sukhothai Dynasty (1279-1298).

In this inscription King Ramkhamheang tells the story of the Sukhothai regime; He includes details of the systems of law and describes how he ruled the people wisely, in a kind and personal, like father and son manner. King Ramkhamheang – (who was an outstanding warrior, statesman, scholar and diplomat who expanded his control from the Khmer kingdom of Angkor in the east, through much of what is today central and southern Thailand, to northern parts of Laos and Burma) – gives a picture of his kingdom as idyllic and free of constrains.

Dtom Jeaw Pla is a rustic and spicy fish soup that is far from being unsophisticated. There is something humble, genuine, and unpretentious about it, which makes you fall in love with it.

Its humble countryside charm and surfeit of tastes quickly placed it high on my personal list of favorite dishes.

The fresh essence of fish cooked to perfection melds with the earthy tones of the grilled ingredients, the eggplants, shallots, chilies and garlic. It has a heavenly silky broth with a scent of lemongrass, which is generously lifted up by a handful of fresh herbs, lemon basil, saw coriander and spring onions.

This Laotian dish is popular in the mountainous region of Luang Prabang, the magical city in the northern part of Central Laos.

It is a complex and mildly spicy stew, multi layered with flavors and textures, creating a unique, nutritious and delicious dish. It possesses a subtle harmony within a charismatic orchestra of flavors and textures; the taste of meat coupled with the sweetness of vegetables, opposing the bitterness of the greens and willingly surrendering to the aroma of fresh dill and fragrant lemon basil… but it’s not all yet….