Laap (sometimes transliterated as larb,) is Laos’ national dish. This minced meat salad can be made with raw or cooked beef, pork or fish in citrus juice flavored with padek, chilis, garlic, mint and onion. Cooked laap dishes are listed alongside the raw ones on menus so double check what you’re ordering. No meat seems to be off limits for laap as duck, buffalo, chicken or even mushrooms and tofu are available in restaurants and roadside stands. Grab a ball of sticky rice to scoop up the laap and eat with your hands.
Tom Mak Houng
Tom Mak Houng is a papaya salad is another signature dish that offers the perfect blend of all the Laotian flavors. Made out of raw papaya that is tempered with fermented fish sauce, garlic, chilly, lime juice, sugar and garnished with peanut, Papaya salad is staple in the Laotian cuisine. It is fresh, fulfilling and packs a healthy punch. It helps to balance the otherwise heavy meat dished by adding some fresh crunch to it.
Wet Noodles (Khao Piak Sen)
Khao Piak Sen is a chewy noodle soup that has a similar consistency to Udon, but it is made with rice instead of wheat. It is considered to be a comfort food in Laos, typically made with pork or chicken, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, garlic, chopped coriander leaves, bean sprouts, and served with freshly sliced limes. The most crucial factor is the broth, which should be slowly cooked with bones for the best flavor. At many restaurants, you will be encouraged to add in your own amount of sugar, chili sauce, dried chili powder, fish sauce, or soy sauce.
Khao Lam Bamboo Sticky Rice
Steamed rice in a bamboo tube is a signature dish for most of the oriental cuisines and also a popular Laos street food. Khao Lam Bamboo Sticky Rice is a very famous Laotian sweet dish where sticky rice is treated with coconut cream and red or black bean to be filled in a bamboo tube and roasted until all the ingredients are cooked and blended together to give a sweet aromatic treat. It is such a popular food for the Laotians that it is sold on the streets.
Laos food culture can be seen in its unique and flavorsome dishes, and among those is Marinated fish. Steamed or grilled wrapped in banana leaves is a common delicacy in most of the Asian cuisine. But the treatment of the dish is what gives it a distinct characteristic of its own. Mok Pa is a signature dish from Lao in which white fish is pounded and seasoned with exotic spices such as chili peppers, basis, kefir leaves, fish sauce, spring onions, and salt; wrapped in banana leaves and steamed bamboo baskets. The soft and flaky texture of the fish soaked in the varied aromatic spices melts into your mouth.
This is one of the Laos food dishes that you must eat with sticky rice. Highly common in Laos, Tam contains various fruits and people usually prefer taking it with unripe and shredded papaya – this particular dish then is called tam mak hoong. However, don’t confuse it with papaya salad, for it is a totally different thing. Every element used in the dish is raw and pestled together during the preparation of the dish.
Sticky rice (Khao Niaw)
Sticky rice is a staple throughout the country. It is commonly said that Lao citizens eat more sticky rice than anyone else in the world. It is traditionally steamed in a cone-shaped bamboo basket, and placed in a covered basket where it is eaten alongside many dishes. In Laos, there should always be sticky rice available to eat at any time of day.
Grilled River Fish
Landlocked Laos has no shortage of freshwater seafood caught in its many rivers. Grilled river fish is covered in salt, stuffed with lemongrass and other spices, skewered and grilled over coals. The flakey fish is most often eaten with the hands by pulling apart the meat and creating a lettuce wrap with sticky rice and sauces. The fish are not deboned so be aware of small bones as you dig in. Lao people have no problem eating eyeballs, tails and skin, but also aren’t offended by more choosey visitors. Just pass of the scraps to the stray dogs or cats that run the Lao streets.