Lao cuisine shares similarities with Vietnamese, Chinese and more noticeable to Khmer, especially Thai cooking. Some famous dishes in Thai such as sticky rice, laab or papaya salad have actually originated in Laos. Like many countries in Asia, food plays a large part of the culture in Laos. Food is the effective topic that you can use to start a conversation, especially when eating and sharing dishes between friends and family. Simple, natural ingredients are the backbone of Lao cuisine. For this, they appear in almost every Lao meal. Meat and fish are usually grilled or steamed as a result, the famous are fresh and the dishes low in fat. On the other hand, Lao cuisine has many regional variations with special ingredients from each region, but there are few dishes that you need to try during your trip to Laos.
The foundation of all Lao meals is rice. It is said that Lao citizens eat more rice than anyone else in the world. Sticky rice in Laos are often served in a cone-shaped woven basket and used at every meal with many other delicious dishes. In Laos, there should always be sticky rice available to eat at any time of day. One of the best simple meals that you can try in Laos is sticky rice served with jeow, which is a mixture of tomatoes, eggplants, chilies, and peanuts. Another tasty dish made from sticky rice is Khao Lam, glutinous rice cooked inside a tube of bamboo, infusing it with an earthy, woody flavor.
This is a popular snack in Laos. Kaipen is made of freshwater green algae, peppered with sesame seeds and sundried into paper-thin sheets and jaew bong is a sweet and spicy paste of roast chili and thin pieces of buffalo skin. The dish will be perfect with a glass of cold Beer Lao.
Laap (sometimes transliterated as larb) is Laos' national dish. To make laap, a variety of minced meat can be used such as pork, chicken, beef, duck or fish, then flavor with lime juice, garlic, mint leaves, and fish sauce. Ground and toasted rice are usually added. Grab a ball of sticky rice to scoop up the laap and eat with your hands which will bring you a feeling that you have never been before. Locals like to eat laap while taking shots of the local whiskey.
It is also known as “sai oua”. These pork sausages are mixed with seasonal herbs such as lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves, shallots, cilantro, chilies and fish sauce. You may also find another version of Lao sausage, which is known as Soured sausage. This type is cooked with sticky rice in addition to the above ingredients, and the sausage will be put outside for a couple of days before it becomes sour. Lao sausage is normally served with fresh vegetables and sticky rice in meals.
Similar to Banh Mi in Vietnam, Khao Jee Sandwich is a French baguette filled with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, carrots, onion and optional cheese, luncheon meat and chopped ham, pate and a chili garlic sauce. You can easily find a vendor selling this quick and delicious snack on almost every street corner. Khao Jee sandwich is better with a cup of strong filtered coffee.
It is one of the Lao signatures but served in different varieties around the region, such as in Thailand this dish is similar to Som Tam. The refreshing salad is mainly made from sliced raw papaya with garlic, chilies, peanuts, sugar, lime juice and fermented fish sauce.