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Laotian Cuisine

Hanoi Voyages > Laos travel guide > Laotian Cuisine

Food in Laos

Laotian cuisine offers essential regional variations depending on the fresh ingredients available in a particular place. It includes vegetables, fish, chicken, duck, beef, pork and water buffalo. The unique horse meat restaurant can also be found. The French also left their traces, especially in the capital Vientiane.

Laotian cuisine does not have international gastronomic fame. However, it has many characteristics and specialties that make it a relatively varied and original cuisine. It differs from those of the neighboring countries as it is influenced by Chinese cuisine, and by the abundance and variety of aromatic herbs used. Another characteristic is coconut oil is used as the only fat resource.

Being landlocked most fish eaten comes from the fresh waters of the country, and in the rural areas, many of the meats consumed come from the wild, rather than from domesticated animals. Some of these include wild pigs, deer, jungle fowl, squirrels pheasants, and other birds. In the villages, domesticated animals are eaten including ducks, chicken, pigs, and cattle. Foods are salted with the use of fermented anchovies, most of which is imported from Thailand. Flavorings are added and include mint, lemongrass, chilies, ginger, tamarind and lime juices, and the flesh or juice of coconuts.

Top five Laotian food to try

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  1. Klao niaw (Sticky rice): Rice and noodles are the staples in this country and are eaten with, or in many different foods. Sticky rice is the most common and is eaten using your fingers, generally taking a small amount from the lidded bamboo basket it comes to the table in, rolling it into a ball and dipping it any sauce or meal you have ordered.
  2. Laap (Meat salat): The most common dish in Laos is Laap. This tasty meal is a Laos style salad made of minced meat, chicken or fish, mint, garlic, green onions, and chilies. It is served with a plate of lettuce leaves and using your fingers you wrap the laap in the leaves and consume.
  3. Tam mak houng (Papaya salad): Green papaya salad is another favorite in Laos. Shredded green papaya, lime juice, garlic chilies, and other condiments are pounded in a large mortar, and this quite spicy dish is a delight to the taste buds. On the streets, you can order a custom-made mix by adding other ingredients available from the vendor.
  4. Oh lam (Stew): A stew made mainly from vegetables: beans, eggplants, gourds, black mushrooms. Then it is seasoned with lemongrass, chili, and coriander and finally thickened with sticky rice. The name of the stew means that whatever ingredients are on hand is used for it. But the critical element is Sa kan, a bitter root herb.
  5. French-inspired food: After being a part of French Indochina, Laos has adapted some of the French cuisines from the time like the baguette and Khao jie pate (Lao sandwich), which are stuffed with pork pate, greens and chili paste. It is sold everywhere as a quick snack. 

Fruits

Laos, as with its neighbors, is abundant with a beautiful array of tasty tropical fruits. All are seasonal, but there is never a problem with the choices available. Pomelo, durian, rambutan, grapes, bananas plums, apples, and dragon fruit are among the host of fruits available in this country. In season fruits are usually offered to diners at the completion of a meal as there are few desserts on a Laos menu.

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