10 Dishes That Will Help You Understand Laotian Cuisine Better

laos food

1. Laap

Larb or laap is widely considered as Laos’ national dish – this meat-based salad is flavored with mint leaves, chilli, fish sauce, and lime juice, giving it a zesty flavor. Most restaurants use pork or chicken to make larb, but you can also enjoy it with minced beef, duck, or fish.

lao laap


2. Khao Niew (Sticky Rice)

Almost every meal is eaten with a side of sticky rice/

Khao Niew


3. Sien Savanh (Lao Beef Jerky)

Similar to beef jerky, it’s made using beef flank steak (some places use water buffalo meat) that’s marinated in a mixture of garlic, fish sauce, ginger, sesame seed, sugar, salt and black pepper.

Sien Savanh


4. Or Lam

Or Lam is a mildly spicy, slightly tongue numbing, Laotian stew originating from Luang Prabang, Laos. The peppery and thick broth is prepared by slowly simmering lemongrass, chilies and Lao chili wood with crushed or mashed up sticky rice, grilled citronella, garlic and onions added to thicken the broth

Or Lam


5. Khao Piak Sen

Khao piak Sen is a traditional Lao noodle soup that is commonly served for breakfast. It is made by simmering chicken broth with galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, garlic, and fish sauce. The thick, chewy noodles (made from rice flour and tapioca starch) are later added to the broth and release some of their starch, thickening the soup a bit in the process

Khao Piak Sen


6. Khao Soi

Rice noodles covered with a broth made from chicken bones and herbs. The soup gets topped with a sauce made from tomato, vinegar, palm sugar, chili powder, and thua nao, a type of Lao fermented soybean paste that incorporates chili paste

Khao Soi


7. Tam Mak Hoong

A spicy salad made from shredded unripe papaya. It’s combined with tomato, garlic, and cashew and typically dressed with a mixture of soy and fish sauce, which adds salty and savory flavors, while palm sugar provides sweetness.

Tam Mak Hoong


8. Khao Jee Pa-Tay

A Lao baguette-based sandwich, similar to Vietnam’s bánh mì. It is a famous street food found throughout Laos. The sandwich is made by splitting the baguette lengthways and spread with a thick layer of pork liver pâté, stuffed with pork or Lao sausage, sliced papaya, carrots, shallots or onion, cucumber, cilantro and sometimes Jeow bong or chili sauce.

Khao Jee Pate


9. Sai Oo-ah

Laotian sausage. Using a mixture of pork belly, skin, and minced meat, it can also include diced galangal, chopped green onions, cilantro with a ton of dill, and of course a kick from the fresh chili peppers.

Lao Sausages


10. Muu Som

Raw pork belly gets massaged and then marinated for approximately three weeks in a wet mash of cold steamed rice mixed with garlic, vinegar, salt, sugar, and water. After the fermentation is complete, the pork is removed and roasted until fully cooked, then charred in a wok with dark soy, ginger, garlic, onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms. This helps the fat crisp up, while the meat remains tender.

Muu Som

Mariska Lee

Mariska is a recovering attorney who gave up her professional job to discover new perspectives of life while traveling in a 2009 Ford Transit. She has been living the van life for 3 years and has not looked back since.

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