Packed with fragrant herbs, fresh veggies and sizzling spice, Lao cuisine offers a burst of flavours and textures designed to excite the palate. While travelling through the country, make sure to try these delicious dishes.
Popular for snacking, kaipen are sundried sheets of freshwater green algae garnished with sesame seeds that are then flash-friend and eaten with a flavourful chilli paste known as jaew bong.
Considered Laos’ national and most famous dish, larb is a minced meat ‘salad’ that be made with chicken, beef, duck, fish, pork or even tofu. The minced meat is mixed with plenty of fresh herbs, like basil or mint, and chilis along with fish sauce, shrimp paste, sugar and lime juice. Larb pairs perfectly with pinches of sticky rice…just make sure to ask for it without the chilies if you don’t want it too spicy!
Naem Khao Tod, or crispy rice salad, is a unique salad made with deep-fried balls of rice mixed with fermented pork sausage (naem), grated coconut, peanuts, chilis, fish sauce and fresh herbs. The result is a flavourful mouthful that is traditionally eaten in a lettuce leaf as an appetiser.
Mok Pla is fish that is steamed with aromatics and sauces like lemongrass, kaffir leaves, and fish sauce in a banana leaf. Like larb, mok pla is also eaten with one’s fingers and a side of sticky rice.
Okay, so this isn’t a dish, but it’s still a must-try while in Laos! Light and refreshing, especially when served the Laotian way in a small glass with ice, Lao Beer helps wash down the country’s delicious dishes (and help you handle the spice!). Coming in light and dark varieties, the brand is often considered one of the best beers in Southeast Asia. Cheers!