A traditional Laap recipe – Lao minced meat and herb salad that is perfect with chicken, beef, tofu or even veggies. Bursting with flavors from various herbs and spices. A must make. Gluten-Free Dairy-Free too.
The other day we volunteered in Luang Prabang Laos at an organization called Big Brother Mouse, which makes and sells children’s book in both Lao and English to be distributed to village children in more remote areas in Laos. Some of those kids would be receiving their very first book ever. I think this is a great organization and on top of this every day from 9-11 and 5-7 English speakers are welcome to come in and take with locals who want to practice.
D and I came in on a Saturday night and were instantly in high demand. I ended up chatting with two 4th year university boys who were studying economics and tourism. Through our travels we’ve met lots of students studying tourism – it seems like a profitable sector where there are many opportunities thanks to more tourists coming to these countries year after year.
At the end of our 2 hour chat the boys invited us to join them on their class activities day by the river, set for the following day. An invitation to hang out with 40 local Lao university students? I jumped at the opportunity.
They promptly picked us up on their motorbikes the next day and drove us to the river. Since it’s dry season there a “beach” by the river and there the student set up a tarp tied to bamboo poles to protect us from the sun. And from there we spent the day playing cards, balloon games, dancing, lunch, volley ball, soccer, throwing tapioca starch all over each other, and finally running into the river to wash off.
We had an amazing day getting to know the students. They were incredibly welcoming and inviting, sharing both their lunch meals with us and their future hopes and dreams. It was a great window into the life of the local students and we couldn’t be more thankful for the invite.
As corny as it sounds, it’s moments like this that really show me why I left everything behind at home to travel the world.
On a food related note, though we did not have a laap recipe for lunch that day, this is a traditional Lao dish which I felt would be appropriate to share with this story.
At the Tamarind cooking class we made a laap recipe with buffalo meat (water buffalo that is), though it can be made with beef, pork, chicken or even tofu, mushrooms or eggplant for a vegetarian version. This dish can be made with raw meat or just partially cooked but I prefer my meat dishes well done, so I made sure to fully cook the buffalo. The instructor also offered an additional of buffalo bile and tripe to the salad. The words alone made my stomach turn. I suppose it’s time to admit I am not so adventurous of an eater. In the end I did end up with buffalo bile in the salad though – while my cooking partner and I were going back and forth between adding it or not the instructor came by and just dropped a spoonful into the salad. I just pretended it was fish sauce, and my mind never knew the difference.
Though I prefer this laap recipe – minced meat and herb salad with chicken I fully enjoyed this Lao classic and highly recommend trying it at home (adjusting the ingredients to your adventure level).
Let me know what you think of the laap recipe.
Laap Recipe - A traditional Lao minced meat and herb salad that is perfect with chicken, beef, tofu or even veggies. Bursting with flavors from various herbs and spices. A must make.
- 5 ounces minced buffalo beef, or chicken
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2-3 small green onions finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 stalk lemongrass (white part only) finely sliced (outer leaves removed)
- 1/2 cup mint roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon roasted sticky rice powder
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1-2 chilies to taste chopped
- 1 small handful finely sliced banana flower optional
- 2 long beans finely sliced
- 1/4 cup saw leaf coriander chopped (omit if can't find)
- 1 tablespoon fresh galangal minced
- 1 teaspoon dried chili powder
- small hanful bean sprouts
- dash of stock powder optional
In a pan lightly sautee the meat with salt and half the fish sauce. Cook until cooked through.
Remove from heat and place meat in separate bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine.
Serve with greens (lettuce, etc) and sticky rice
Recipe from Tamarind Cooking School