Tamarind is a beautiful restaurant sits on the Nam Khan river in Luang Prabang. They offer day and evening classes to learn about the unique cuisine of Laos.
Food in Laos is more distinctive than you might expect. Freshness is very important with everything prepared from scratch. Dishes are based on balance between sweet, sour, cooked, fresh, mild, bitter, salty and spicy. Herbs including galangal (similar to ginger) and lemongrass are commonly used.
Start early with a tour or the market where small, covered walkways are lined with baskets of chillis, fruits, vegetables and big drums of rice.
Ingredients purchased you head off to Tamarind Gardens Lakeside Cooking School, a beautiful place to cook surrounded by lotus ponds and gardens.
I cooked a selection of dishes including:
Sticky rice. As the name suggests this rice sticks together making it easy to mould into a ball with your hands. You can then squash the ball so its a spoon-like shape and using your thumb, scoop up other dishes into the rice.
Laap (also spelt Larb or Lahp) is a meat based salad flavoured with lime, garlic, fish sauce, mint leaves, spring onion and ground toasted rice. It’s known as the unofficial national dish of Laos so this is a must try. I cooked with buffalo but laap can also be made from chicken, pork or beef. You might also find fish, vegetarian and raw meat options. Laap is always eaten with a side of khao niaow.
Fish steamed in banana leaves
Oua Si Khai
Stuffed lemongrass, I cooked a version with chicken but you can use different meat or vegetable fillings. This was probably the most challenging dish. You make a ‘basket’ from the lemon glass by cutting very fine sections, making sure not to cut too thinly so it was weak. Once the ‘basket’ was made the chicken needed to be stuffed which was tricky because it kept falling out.
Purple sticky rice with coconut sauce. Serve with fresh fruits. Mine featured Mangosteen and Mango.
Visited September – October 2016
Little Amy Tours