Friday, February 12, 2010

Lao Food

The food in Laos was pretty similar to the food in Thailand, only lacking the wide variety that is available in Thailand. Over the last three weeks, we’ve lived mostly on three things: noodle soup, curry, and fried noodles.

The main staple of Lao cuisine is sticky rice, which is only ocassionally served in Thailand. It’s usually served piping-hot in one of these little bamboo steamers
Then you grab a chunk, squeeze it into a tight little ball, and dip it into your meal. It goes GREAT with curry, like my absolute favorite curry of all time from Pan’s restaurant on Don Khong island. Curry in Laos is pretty similar to what you’d find in southern Thailand, delicious and sweetened with coconut milk.
The typical noodle soup in Laos has a mild, clear broth (I’m not sure what the stock is from, but it’s not chicken) with some leafy greens, shallots, noodles, and meat.

And it will usually come with a plate of onions, limes, and chili peppers so that you can season it to your own liking and some more greens in case you like your soup extra leafy.

Some other popular dishes in Laos include:

Glass Noodle Soup
Lao fried noodles

Rice soup for breakfast
Another popular snack (or main dish) is BBQ. Typically, they will take a piece of bamboo and cut it down the middle (length-wise). Then they'll put the meat in between the make-shift tongs, tie the ends together, and use this as a handle while they cook the fish or chicken on the grill. I never got up the motivation to try the fish, but the grilled chicken was delicious!
grilled fish displayed at the night market in Luang Prabang

And the traditional Lao dish of Laap – it can be fish, chicken, pork, or beef (this is fish) and it’s mixed with lots of herbs and spices, most notably lime juice and basil. The taste was a bit too overwhelming for me (which is surprising because I found most Lao food a bit more bland than Thai cuisine), but if you put the laap on the cucumber, it’s a pretty refreshing meal.
Although in general we really did enjoy the food in Laos, we were certainly tiring of the local cuisine after three weeks here. It will be nice to move into Cambodia and try something new!

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