Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lao Food

The people of Laos are brilliant because they top their eggs benedict with bernaise sauce. I would happily bathe in this bernaise sauce.
Lao food is so ridiculously delicious. It was such a pleasant surprise because we had never really had it before. People describe it as a cross between French and Thai. There is some of the best French food we've eaten outside of France here. Everyone always says how French Vietnam is, but Laos has WAY better French food than Vietnam. Some of the pastries and sauces here nearly blew my mind. All that being said, traditional Lao food is very uniquely just Lao. Not easy to categorize. It's just plain awesome.

There are a few main staples to Laotian food:
Sticky rice - Served in a basket. We've had white, red, and black. You take a chunk at a time and can use it as a utensil to sop up tons of tasty stuff.
Jeow - Spicy vegetable dips to scoop up with stick rice
Laap - Ground meat salad. You can get pork, chicken, beef or duck. (Duck is the best and most traditional.)
Fried seaweed sheets with sesame and chili
Anything with water buffalo
Spicy pork or water buffalo sausage (We LOVED the spicy water buffalo sausage)
Or lam - Kind of like stew with eggplant, bamboo shoots and pork
Anything steamed in a banana leaf (Our favorite was white fish steamed with coconut mousse and kaffir lime)
Spicy curry
Lots of Beer Lao and lao lao (rice whiskey)

We unfortunately did not get any pics of the food at our favorite place, 3 Nagas (our hotel restaurant). I was just too hungry and at this point sick of taking pictures. Here's what we did get on camera though:

The picture above was quite the sampler! Starting with the plate on the left: Spicy lemongrass stalks stuffed with chicken, shaved and stir fried young pumpkin, and fish steamed in banana leaf. The plate to the right of that: fried seaweed, 3 different types of spicy jeow, Lao pork sausage, and water buffalo jerky. We demolished both plates and couldn't believe how tasty it was.
For dessert: sticky rice steamed with coconut milk and topped with fresh coconut with tamarind sauce. Sugarcane crackers on the right.
Amazing plate of warm pastries.
Spicy coconut curry with pork and lemongrass with steamed white rice. Sweet and sour fried tilapia and black sticky rice.
More sticky rice and jeow, spicy pork with eggplant and pad thai.