Gooey raw shrimp laap (ลาบเหนียวกุ้ง ; laap niaao goong)

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Gooey raw shrimp laap (ลาบเหนียวกุ้ง ; laap niaao goong)

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A savory, salty and spicy, gooey raw shrimp laap, this type of laap is usually made with meat from the much sought-after clown featherback fish (ปลากราย; bplaa kraai). This fish meat develops a unique gooey texture after a somewhat tedious workout – pounding the fish meat in a mortar and pestle while gradually adding savory broth and fermented fish sauce.

This fish laap is often served raw but it can be further cooked by roasting or cooking with some liquids, as well as grilling the fish mixture in a banana leaf wrap.  

In rural Issan, it is common to consume raw freshwater fish. However, unlike saltwater fish, eating raw freshwater fish presents the risk of infection by common tapeworms or parasites – including the Southeast Asian liver fluke (opisthorchis viverrini), which has an impressive twenty-year lifespan and feeds on human digestive bile; this parasitic infection can lead to severe bile duct and liver cancers.

There is a folk belief in the Issan countryside that the removal of the fish’s skin, head and organs by an experienced cook, along with a thorough washing of the fish, will eliminate most parasites. Furthermore, a sip of lao khaao (เหล้าขาว), a 40% distilled spirit, is believed to kill any parasites remaining in the dish. (Distilled spirit in Issan language: บักสองซาว; bak saawng saao).

The heads, tails, skins, and internal organs of the fish are boiled with aromatics and fermented fish (pla ra), creating a savory broth that is added to the fish meat while pounding it with ground roasted glutinous rice and ground dried chilies to thicken the mixture. The remaining broth and fish parts are further seasoned into a spicy soup to be served next to the laap.

Please note: While Thaifoodmaster does not claim to provide authoritative medical advice, we believe that raw freshwater fish meat consumption is unsafe and should be avoided. Therefore, if you use clown featherback fish meat – or any other freshwater fish – to prepare this dish, we recommend serving it cooked. However, since in Issan it is mostly consumed raw, we have substituted shrimp for the fish meat and, in the recipe below, we marked the cooking stage of the laap as ‘optional’.

Essential Cooking Skills:

How to prepare ground roasted rice (ข้าวคั่ว ; khaao khuaa)
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Gooey raw shrimp laap (ลาบเหนียวกุ้ง ; laap niaao goong)
Gooey raw shrimp laap (ลาบเหนียวกุ้ง ; laap niaao goong)
A savory, salty and spicy, gooey raw shrimp laap, is often served raw but it can be further cooked by roasting or cooking with some liquids, as well as grilling the fish mixture in a banana leaf wrap.
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Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course laap
Cuisine Laotian, Thai Chinese, Northeastern Cuisine (Issan)
Servings 4


To prepare the shrimp:

For the savory broth (น้ำนัว ; naam nuaa)

The herbs:



Prepare the shrimp:

  • Peel and devein the shrimp. Save the heads and shells. Smash the shrimp with a heavy knife to improve their texture and mince roughly. Set aside.

Prepare the savory broth (น้ำนัว)

  • In a pot, bring water, seasoned fermented fish sauce, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves to a strong boil. Simmer on medium heat until the aroma of the lemongrass is released and there is no foul odor.
  • Add the shrimp heads and shells to the pot and cook only until the shells turn orange.
  • Strain the liquids using a sieve. Press well to squeeze out all the juices and the tomalley from the shrimp heads. Strain and set aside.

Prepare the herbs:

  • Finely mince young galangal with a knife. Set aside.
  • Thinly slice the spring onion. Set aside.
  • Roughly chop the coriander leaves. Set aside.
  • Pick small young mint leaves and use them whole. Set aside.
  • Thinly slice the fresh chilies.

Pound the laap:

  • Add the minced shrimp meat to an Issan-style wooden or clay mortar and pestle.
  • Add the minced galangal.
  • Add ground roasted glutinous rice and ground dried chili.
  • Pound the shrimp meat until it becomes gooey; gradually add the savory broth in small amounts as you pound, until you have reached the desired consistency.

Combine the laap:

  • Taste and adjust the saltiness to your liking, using fish sauce. It should be salty and savory.
  • When you are satisfied with the seasoning, add the herbs.
  • Add ground roasted glutinous rice and ground dried chili.
  • Mix and serve raw as is or continue to cook the laap.

Cooking the laap (optional):

  • In a pan, over medium low heat, roast the finished laap – including the seasonings and aromatics – until the fish is cooked. Serve warm.
  • Alternatively, wrap the laap with banana leaves and grill over charcoals.


  • Serve alongside phak gap laap (ผักกับลาบ) – fresh herbs and vegetables.
Keyword laap (ลาบ)
Tried this recipe?We’d love to see it – tag it #THAIFOODMASTER on Instagram! Please leave a comment to let us know how it was!

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