Tuesday, April 24, 2018

LAO CUISINE 
 
What is lao’s cuisine?
Lao cuisine is the cuisine of Laos, which is distinct from other Southeast Asian cuisines.The staple food of the Lao is steamed sticky rice, which is eaten by hand. In fact, the Lao eat more sticky rice than any other people in the world. Often the Lao will refer to themselves as "luk khao niaow", which can be translated as "children or descendants of sticky rice".



The most famous Lao dish is larb (sometimes also spelled laap), a spicy mixture of marinated meat or fish that is sometimes raw with a variable combination of herbs, greens, and spices. Another Lao invention is a spicy green papaya salad dish known as tam mak hoong, more famously known to the West as som tam.A French legacy is still evident in the capital city, Vientiane, where baguettes are sold on the street and French restaurants are common and popular, which were first introduced when Laos was a part of French Indochina.



Lao cuisine origin
The Lao originally came from a northern region that is now part of China. As they moved southward, they brought their traditions with them. Due to historical Lao migrations from Laos into neighboring regions, Lao cuisine has influenced the mainly Lao-populated region of Northeastern Thailand (Isan) and Lao foods were also introduced to Cambodia and Northern Thailand (Lanna) where the Lao have migrated.



In his book, Culture and Customs of Laos, Arne Kislenko noted the following about Lao cuisine:

v  Any discussion about Lao cuisine cannot be limited to Laos. There are approximately six times more ethnic Lao in the Isan region of northeastern Thailand than in Laos itself.
v  With the recent droves of migrants from Isan further south to Bangkok, the Thai capital has in many respects become the epicenter of Lao cuisine.
v  There are also sizable expatriate communities in places like the United States and France that make for numerous culinary variations abroad



Lao and Thai cuisine

Despite there being more ethnic Lao living in Thailand than in Laos and Lao cuisine playing a pivotal role in making Thai food an international phenomenon, very little to no mention of the word "Lao" is found. This phenomenon are most likely the direct consequences of forced Thaification, an official attempts to promote national unity and "Thainess", where any mention of "Lao" and other non-Thai descriptors were removed and replaced with northeastern Thai or Isan.


Lao cuisine is still virtually unknown even though much of what is served in Thai restaurants is likely to be Lao or Lao-owned. In fact, unbeknownst to most people when they eat their favorite som tam, larb and sticky rice they are actually eating the Thai versions of traditional Lao food.There is now a growing movement to promote Lao cuisine led by Chef Seng and executive chef Phet Schwader to name a few.


Ingredients

Laos cuisine has a fundamentally varied mix of ingredients most of which can be observed in the neighboring Asiatic countries as well, now let us have an insight on what those ingredients are

1.       Rice and noodles




Pastes and sauce


Meat



Fruits
Melon carving is also a popular tradition in Laos, where artists may carve beautiful flowers and other designs into fruits such as watermelon. Fruit arrangements are also common, and these are done during special occasions such as weddings and other ceremonies.




Vegetables, Herbs and Spices






Kitchen utensils

The typical Lao stove, or brazier, is called a tao-lo and is fueled by charcoal. It is shaped like a bucket, with room for a single pot or pan to sit on top.The wok, maw khang in Lao, is used for frying and stir frying. Sticky rice is steamed inside of a bamboo basket, a huad, which sits on top of a pot, which is called the maw nung.A large, deep mortar called a khok is used for pounding tam mak hoong and other foods. It is indispensable in the Lao kitchen.



Cooking methods
Grilling, boiling, stewing, steaming, searing are all traditional cooking methods. Stir-frying is now common, but considered to be a Chinese influence. Stews are often green in color, because of the large proportion of vegetables used as well as ya nang leaf. Soups/stews are categorized as follows:
n   tom
n   tom jeud
n   kaeng and
n   kaeng soua




Ping means grilled. It is a favorite cooking method. Ping gai is grilled chicken, ping sin is grilled meat, and ping pa is grilled fish. Before grilling, the meat is typically seasoned with minced garlic, minced coriander root, minced galangal, salt, soy sauce, and fish sauce, each in varying quantities, if at all, according to preference. The Lao seem to prefer a longer grilling at lower heat.


Eating customs

The traditional manner of eating was communal, with diners sitting on a reed mat on the wooden floor around a raised platform woven out of rattan called a ka toke. Dishes are arranged on the ka toke, which is of a standard size. Where there are many diners, multiple ka tokes will be prepared. Each ka toke will have one or more baskets of sticky rice, which is shared by all the diners at the ka toke. In recent times, eating at a ka toke is the exception rather than     


In recent times, eating at a ka toke is the exception rather than   the rule. The custom is maintained, however, at temples, where each monk is served his meal on a ka toke. Once food is placed    on the ka toke it becomes apha kao. In modern homes, the term    for preparing the table for a meal is still taeng pha kao, or   prepare the phah kao.
Lao meals typically consist of a soup dish, a grilled dish, a sauce, greens, and a stew or mixed dish (koy or laap). The greens are usually fresh raw greens, herbs and other vegetables, though depending on the dish they accompany, they could also be steamed or more typically, parboiled. Dishes are not eaten in sequence; the soup is sipped throughout the meal.

Beverages, including water, are not typically a part of the meal. When guests are present, the meal is always a feast, with food made in quantities sufficient for twice the number of diners. For a host, not having enough food for guests would be humiliating.The custom is to close the rice basket, when one is finished eating.

Traditionally, spoons were used only for soups and white rice, and chopsticks were used only for noodles. Most food was handled by hand. The reason this custom evolved is probably due to the fact that sticky rice can only be easily handled by hand.




Dips

Jaew mak khua - made from roasted eggplant.


Jaew mak len - made from roasted sweet tomatoes.


Jaew bong - sweet and spicy paste made with roasted chilies, pork skin, galangal and other ingredients.


Jaew padaek - made from fried padaek, fish, roast garlic, chilies, lemon grass, and other ingredients