Laos is a central country of Southeast Asia but Lao cuisine is very different from food of other countries in this region.

Although this country is located in between China, Thailand, Vietnam, Burma, and Cambodia and this country is considered as the pivot of Southeast Asia but still, Laos has unique culture and tradition.

The food in this country is rich in taste and color and in this article is everything you should know about Lao cuisine.

Lao cuisine Facts and History

The food of Lao people developed with their migration to neighboring regions of Thailand, Cambodia, and China. These people learn the art of cooking and adopted some aspects of foreign culture. When Lao people came back to their land with diverse dishes, cooking technique, and norms, it developed a whole new cuisine.

• Sticky rice is very popular in Laos and people of Laos love to eat sticky rice dishes. Other Southeast Asian countries also have sticky rice dishes in their food but in Laos sticker rice, therefore, Lao people are also referred as “luk khao niaow” which means kids of sticky rice.

• Laap is the most popular dish of Lao cuisine which is a very delicious spicy dish with marinated meat, herbs, and fish. Meat is chopped in small pieces which makes this dish easy to eat for people of all age groups.

• Rice is the most popular ingredient in Lao cuisine. Desserts also contain glutinous rice with tropical fruits. Western people may find it strange combination but it is worth trying.

• Cooking in Laos is also closely related to games like the hunting of river fish and wild boar. Some people hunt their fish and boar on different family events.

• You will always get Laotian food at room temperature because here people consider very hot and cold meal unhealthy. It is scientifically true and doctors also recommend to eat food at mild temperature.

• Laos has no connection with ocean, therefore, ocean fish is very rare in this country. You will not find ocean fish in any reputed restaurant of Laos because people in this country even disgust the taste of ocean fish.

• Lots of dishes in this cuisine are cooked and served in big leaves. Usually, banana leaves are used for this purpose. Some examples of these types of dishes are Mok gai and Mok pa.

• Sweet taste is not very popular in Lao dishes as Laos people prefer bitter dishes over sweet dishes. They also don’t mix sweet and sour taste together and consider it bizarre therefore you will not find any “sour and sweet” dish in this area.

• Lao cuisine has a very strong relationship with Thai food because thousands of Lao people live in Thailand and they brought their traditions and food to Thailand when they migrated to this region.

Lao Cuisine Menu

Breakfast

• Feu
• Kaeng galee
• Kaeng jeut
• Kaeng sen lon
• Khao niao
• Khao piak sen
• Khao poon
• Lard na
• Mok gai
• Mok khai
• Pad sen lon
• Ping hua ped
• Ping theen gai
• Tom padaek

Lunch

• Khao jao
• Khao khua
• Khao piak khao
• Khao ping
• Mee haeng
• Mee kati
• Mee nam
• Nam khao
• Or lam
• Pad see ew
• Suki
• Tom jeaw pa
• Tom kha gai
• Tom yum
• Ua dok kae
• Yum sen lon

Snacks

• Kaipen
• Khai khuam
• Khai nug
• Khua pak bong
• Look seen
• Mekong river moss
• Miang
• Sai kok
• Sai oua
• Seen hang
• Seen savanh
• Seen tork
• Som khai pa
• Som moo
• Som pa
• Som phak kad
• Yaw
• Yaw jeun

Dinner

• Khua mee
• Mok kai pa
• Mok pa
• Pad ki mao
• Pad Lao
• Ping gai
• Ping moo
• Ping ped
• Ping seen
• Seen dat
• Titi gai

Desserts

• Khanom kok
• Khanom maw kaeng
• Khao lam
• Khao niao mak muang
• Khao pard
• Khao tom
• Lod xong
• Nam van
• Sangkaya
• Voon

Drinks

• Beerlao
• Ca fay – coffee of Lao
• Lau-hai – rice wine
• Lau-khao – rice wine.
• Lau-lao – whiskey of Lao.
• Nam mak pow – it is basically a coconut juice
• Nam oi – special type of sugarcane juice.
• Nam pun
• Oliang – it is iced coffee
• Saa – it is special tea of Laos

Holiday Menus

On different national and local holidays different dishes are prepared in different areas of Laos. Usually grilled dishes are eaten with green vegetables and sauce on special occasions. Mixed dishes and stew are also popular on holidays. No matter what they cook but they make sure to make it in abundance because they consider it humiliating to have limited quantity of food especially when some guests arrive.

Most Popular Dishes

• Khao Niaw which is Laos’s most famous Sticky Rice dish
• Khao Jee also called as Baguettes
• Tam Mak Houng which is a Spicy Green Papaya Salad
• Larb, this dish has several name including Laap, Larp and Lahb
• Or Lam which is basically a Stew
• Lao Barbecue also called as Sindad
• Sai Oua also known as Lao Sausage
• Ping Kai which is Grilled Chicken

Most Used Ingredients

• Rice
• Noodles
• Asian basil
• Coriander
• Bamboo shoots
• Ginger
• Galangal
• Eggplant
• Tamarind leaf
• Turkey berry
• Water spinach
• Yard long beans
• longan
• Jackfruit
• Durian

Traveling Foodie – What to eat when you travel to Lao
Streets of Laos is filled with lots of diverse dishes but you must taste following dishes whenever you visit this place.

Street Food

• Baguettes also known as Khao Jee
• Fresh Spring Rolls locally known as Yall Dib
• Green Papaya Salad as called as Tam Mak Hoong
• Lao Beef Jerky known as Sien Savanh
• Lao Noodle Soup also called as Khao Piak Sen.
• Lao Sausage, other name of this dish is Sai Oua
• Minced Pork Salad locally known as Laab Moo

Restaurant Food

Mok pa: this is very special dish with steamed fish. They use banana leaf to wrap steamed fish which creates extraordinary presentation.

Mok gai: this dish is same as Mok pa but this dish contains steamed chicken in banana leaf instead of steamed fish.

Titi gai: this is meat steak and very popular in Laos.
If you visit this place, then you must taste these street food and restaurant dishes to enjoy the real taste Lao food.

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Are you from Laos? Maybe you visited there? Please feel free to comment and add your own thoughts on Lao ethnic food.

M. Saechao