Laap, Luu, Saa, Koy, Nam Dtohk

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.

Here is a wonderful spicy Nam Tok recipe; you may as well go for it! A crispy fried fish dressed with plenty of fresh herbs, plenty of chilies than some lime juice and fragrant ground roasted rice as a textural binder. It is an unpretentious dish, that is just about what is around and what is available; there is some sort of truth about it, which makes it so wonderful.

If you are trying your first Issan style recipe, than this is the one to go for. It is not complicated to prepare and will show off beautifully the hearty and rustic flavors of Issan.