Traditional Recipes of Laos

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 04 March, 2012, 12:00am


Traditional Recipes of Laos
By Phia Sing

The cuisine of Laos is not nearly as well known outside the country as the traditional food of its neighbours, such as China, Vietnam and Thailand. There aren't any Laotian restaurants in Hong Kong (to my knowledge), and I probably would never have tried the cuisine if not for a visit to the country several years ago.

Laotian cuisine uses ingredients typically associated with its Southeast Asian neighbours - fish sauce and lemon grass, for instance. Although the flavours (and names of dishes) are similar to that of Vietnamese and Thai cuisines, the food is not the same. Laotian cooks incorporate unique ingredients, the most distinctive of which is kaipen, also known as riverweed, which is sun-dried in flat sheets that are as beautiful as Japanese handmade paper.

Traditional Recipes of Laos is one of the few books in English on Laotian cuisine. The people who contributed to the book have impeccable qualifications: the recipes are by the late Phia Sing, who was the chef at the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, and the editors are Alan Davidson and his daughter, Jennifer. The late Davidson was a food historian who's best known for his encyclopaedic work, The Oxford Companion to Food.

Traditional Recipes of Laos has line drawings of ingredients used in the cuisine and recipes such as lap pa keng (minced raw fish), sa soy sin fahn (deer salad), jaew bong (a spicy dip that incorporates water buffalo skin), loen som (pickled fish roe membrane cooked with vegetables) and mok kob (grilled frog).