A Taste of Laos
A delicious history
Lao cuisine is quite distinct from the cuisines of other Southeast Asian countries. The original people of Lao hailed from a region that is now part of China, and these people migrated southward to an area we now know as Laos. If we were to trace the traditional Lao palate and juxtapose it with the spectrum of Southeast Asian flavors, Lao cuisine is remarkably similar to the cuisine of North and Northeastern Thailand, as well as Cambodia.
(Sticky) Rice country
Like many Asian countries, rice is a staple food in Laos—but instead of regular rice, the people of Laos prefer glutinous rice or sticky rice. This rice variant is known for its sticky texture once it is cooked (usually by steaming). The Lao people eat sticky rice with their hands during every meal.
Farm to plate
Freshness is highly important to any Lao cook. Fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs are often used in every meal, enhancing the flavor of the dishes naturally. Meat and fish are usually steamed or grilled, which is the perfect and healthy compliment to the other fresh ingredients used by the Laos cook. The country’s cuisine noticeably lacks any traditional preservation methods—all dishes are freshly prepared and cooked before serving.
The traditional food of Laos is often spicy—this heat in the food is characteristic of the gastronomic region where the country is located in. Fish, buffalo meat, poultry, and pork are the meat of choice. The staple food, sticky rice, can be prepared to be sweet or sour, depending on the other dishes being served on the tavle.
The most popular dish in Laos is called “laap” or “larb.” Most Lao cooks prepare the dish with marinated fish or meat, and infused with spicy flavors, while some prepare laap as one would a ceviche, combining raw fish with various herbs and spices. Tam mak hoong, or a spicy papaya salad, is quite common as well, and very tasty. This salad has raw papaya slivers as its main ingredient, which is complimented by peanuts, chili, garlic, lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar.
Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, is home to the harmonious blending of traditional Lao and French cuisine. The country has been under French colonial rule, an essential part of Laos’ history that is still evident in their food. Do not be surprised if you walk along the capital’s streets and find baguettes being sold from stalls. The locals also like French cuisine, making restaurants and establishments that serve this European import very popular and common.
TNK Travel Team