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Hot Sour Salty Sweet: salads/ rice and rice dishes

This is a VERY late reply. =)

You're welcome. And yes, it's the same dish. Lao chefs aren't just employed at Lao restaurants. They work at Thai restaurants, too. That's why so many Thai restaurants also offer Lao dishes in addition to the regular Thai dishes. In the U.S., it's quite common for Thai restaurants to hire Lao chefs because one of the reasons is that Thai chefs tend to make their foods very sweet, which is common and preferred in Thailand. However, in Laos, our foods are usually not too sweet. Another reason for hiring Lao chefs is that there are more Lao people in the U.S. compared to Thais.

Regarding the Lao fried rice ball dish, "Nam Khao", "Nam Kao", "Nam Khao Tod" or "Nam Kao Tod" are merely different Western spelling/name variations of the same dish.

Nam Khao (Tod) originated in Vientiane, Laos. So it's not surprising that the author first had them in Vientiane.

Here's a recipe for you to try if you're interested:

Jan 03, 2013
yummyrice in Home Cooking

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

I meant to say "khao piak sen" for the noodle soup, since "khao piak" usually refers to rice soup ("khao piak khao").

ISO Lao Sausage links for cooking at home

The last time I went there, the store had run out of them. The only ones they had were the Lao sour sausages (without casing) called Som Moo or Nam, which are typically used as an ingredient in Nam Khao. The store offers both types of Lao sausages in the bin freezer with the Lao sour sausages without casing ("Nam" / "Som Moo") on the left and the regular Lao sausages with casing ("Sai Oua") to the right of it.

Regarding the regular Lao sausages, two of the most popular brands are Lily and Dragonfly and they both offer mild and spicy versions. I much prefer spicy Lao sausages because they're just more interesting to me than the mild ones. Between those two popular brands, I think the Lily brand sausages taste better, but the Dragonfly brand is an okay substitute.

I've found a website that offers both popular brands of Lao sausages:

This one is my favorite for a factory-made sausage:

ISO Lao Sausage links for cooking at home

That makes sense. When Lao sausages were first introduced to the Bay Area, many Lao restaurants used to serve store-bought Lao sausages, which was why the sausages used to pretty much taste the same regardless of the restaurant. However, now that Lao sausages have become more popular, those restaurants are now making their own Lao sausages, which means they're now able to offer variations such as mild or spicy resulting in each restaurant having its own style of Lao sausages. Some restaurants use less herbs in their sausages, whereas others use a lot of herbs and spices. I prefer the latter.

ISO Lao Sausage links for cooking at home

San Pablo Supermarket

1188 International Market Pl
San Pablo, CA 94806

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

You're welcome.

Yes, please share the recipe for khao piak as it is fairly easy to make IMO especially for fresh noodles in a simple, garlic-infused broth. I love making khao piak in the winter time.

The raw version of beef larb is most popular in the southern parts of Laos compared to the northern regions because northern Lao people usually prefer to eat cooked pork. And if northerners make beef larb, it's usually cooked. Bile is one of several ingredients that may be used to add bitterness to a dish. Raw beef larb usually uses more fresh galanga than the cooked version to help mask the rawness of the beef because of galanga's astringent property.

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

Lao-style chicken wings are usually marinated in a spice paste consisting of lemongrass, garlic, optional black or white pepper, and optional Lao chilies. Sometimes shredded lime leaves, ginger, or fresh cilantro are also added as well. There's more recipes out there including using yellow curry powder/paste, but those ones are the most common because they're easy to make, but go so well with chicken wings.

For the marinade, just create your own blend from the following options: fish sauce (and/or salt), a little bit of sugar, and optional oyster sauce and/or Maggi-style soy sauce. I also enjoy adding garlic powder to the marinade.

Coat the chicken wings with your spice paste and then add your marinade.

For an even easier recipe, you don't need a spice paste. Just add some crushed or minced garlic to your chicken wings and then add some fish sauce and sugar.

Chowdown report: Wat Lao Saysettha - Lao home cooking rules! (Santa Rosa)

Just a tidbit of information, the northern Lao variety of "Jaew Bong" (or "Jeo Bong") tends to be sweeter than the southern variety because southerners tend to prefer theirs on the saltier and spicier side and also with a stronger galanga flavor.

Lao Sausage

I'm not on here as much, but better late than never. :)

So here's what the Lao writing on the package says...

*drum roll, please*

The Lao writing simply says "LAO SAUSAGE". lol

That isn't very descriptive, huh? hehe


ໃສ້ອົ່ວ = sausage / ("sai oua")
ລາວ = Lao

ໃສ້ອົ່ວລາວ = Lao sausage / "sai oua Lao"

In the Lao language, adjectives come after nouns.

The ones you bought appear to be regular Lao sausages. I don't believe sausage factories make the soured variety of Lao sausages, which isn't the same as Som Moo in case anyone is confused. Soured Lao sausages taste pretty much the same as regular Lao sausages, but with a sour element due to the fermentation process when cooked Lao sticky rice is added to the filling . However, it seems that sausage factories only offer Lao sausages sans fermentation so that the products will be shipped out faster. So if anyone would like to try the soured kind of Lao sausages, then you could try letting the regular frozen ones sit out for several days and hope that they will ferment, but then again there's supposed to be cooked Lao sticky rice as one of the ingredients in the sausage filling for fermentation to occur quickly, but I'm not a fermentation expert so please do not try fermenting the Lao sausages if you're not familiar with how the fermentation process works.

By the way, San Pablo Supermarket now sells frozen Lao sausages:

ISO Lao Sausage links for cooking at home

San Pablo Supermarket ("International") now carries frozen Lao sausages. The Lao sausages are currently one of the big promotional items in the store with a sign indicating "SPECIAL: Dragonfly Brand - Lao Sausage $10.99. Reg. $11.99". I saw them in the main aisle of the fresh meat section, but of course they were in the bin freezer.

Chowdown report: Another vacation in Laos - in Santa Rosa!


Feu is actually spelled ເຝີ in the Lao script so please disregard the typos in my previous post.

The other Lao font I was using looked so small on the screen that I didn't realize I had used the wrong consonant and vowel.

P.S. jackiecat, you're very welcome and have fun with your new adventure. :)

Green Champa Garden: laotian, lu-mein, thai [Fremont]

You're welcome and yes, Boun Khao Phansaa is the Lao observation of Buddhist Lent so it's the same thing, but the Wat Lao in Richmond is holding their festival today or perhaps I should say earlier this morning. =)

Green Champa Garden: laotian, lu-mein, thai [Fremont]

Hi, Melanie. Wat Lao Rattanaram in Richmond is having a food festival tomorrow. It's supposedly going to be a huge food event tomorrow at that Lao temple.

Green Champa Garden: laotian, lu-mein, thai [Fremont]

You're welcome and thanks for letting me know. If you're in the East Bay tomorrow, there's going to be a Lao food festival at the Wat Lao Rattanaram (temple) in Richmond, CA in celebration of Buddhist lent. There will be lots of people there and plenty of home cooked Lao foods. However, the food typically runs out fairly quickly due to the festival being held at a temple, so show up early, I'm guessing around 9-10 am, if you want to try most of the dishes, but there should be some dishes left around noon. It's hard to say for sure. The Lao temple and its festivals are open to all regardless of one's religion. Just go there for the food if anything. =)

Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland) Thai House Express chef alert

>> "Yes, it is believed that Khao Soi originated from Burma by the Shan people"

Oops. I'd like to make a clarification. "Khauk Swe" originated in Burma, but "Khao Soi" originated in northern Laos. However, "Khao Soi" is the Lao adaptation of the Shan "Khauk Swe", so its roots stem from Burma according to the local story. "Khauk Swe" is Shan language and "Khao Soi" is Lao language.

Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland) Thai House Express chef alert

I actually met a Shan person in the U.S. who was originally from Burma. I was at a Lao party and I didn't realize she was Shan at first so I spoke Lao to her, but she understood what I said. She told me that her people's language and culture are very similar to that of Lao people. So I asked my mom about those people in Burma and she told me that there are some ethnic minority groups in Burma who are related to our Lao people, which explained how I was able to communicate with that Shan person from Burma. Laos, Vietnam, Burma, and Thailand don't have homogenous populations, but are made up of different ethnic groups and they tend to concentrate in different regions of those countries.

For example, northern Laos is where the Lao of China live in the cities and the Lao of Khmu, Mien, and Hmong ancestry live in the hills. Lan Na (northern Thailand) consists primarily of Lao and Burmese in the cities with some minority tribes in the hills. Issan Thailand is primarily an offshoot of Lao in the north and Khmer in the south. Central Thailand is primarily where the Chinese and Vietnamese live. Southern Thailand is primarily of Malaysian ancestry. Southern Laos tends to be where Cham, Khmer, and Vietnamese people live. Northern Vietnam tends to have Lao and Chinese. Southern Vietnam tends to have Khmer and Cham people.

So to most Westerners, they tend to view Lao, Thai, Vietnamese, and Burmese as four separate groups of people, but in reality those four nationalities are made up of various ethnic groups whose people are scattered across various neighboring countries and live on both sides of the border.

Chai Thai Noodles (Oakland) Thai House Express chef alert

Yes, it is believed that Khao Soi originated in Burma by the Shan people who are genetically related to northern Lao and northern Thai people. From what I've read online, it seems that the dish has roots in China, but it became popular in Laos and Thailand via Burma. The story suggests that Chinese immigrants introduced the concept of rice noodle soup to Burma where the Shan combined it with their local curry and created a coconut curry noodle soup, "Khauk Swe", which I believe means the same thing as "Khao Soi" (sliced rice) in the Lao language. Lao and Shan languages are in the same language family and both groups are genetically related to one another. The story goes on to suggest that Chinese immigrants migrated from Burma to Laos and introduced "khauk swe" (known locally in Laos as "khao soi") to northern Laos and then Lao people migrated to northern Thailand and introduced khao soi to that region. Lan Na (northern Thailand) is a blend of Lao and Burmese cultures. As far as labeling khao soi is concerned, the coconut curry version of khao soi is eaten in both northern Laos and northern Thailand so in my opinion, I don't think we should refer to it as Lao-style or Thai-style, since it originated in Burma. We should just simply refer to it as "khao soi" or more specifically "khao soi coconut milk soup", since there's really no distinction between how it is made in Laos, Thailand, and Burma. However, there is another version of khao soi in northern Laos that does not use curry or coconut milk, which some Westerners have already deemed as Lao-style khao soi to distinguish it from the generic coconut milk version that is eaten in all three countries: Laos, Thailand, and Burma.

The Shan of Burma, the Lao of northern Laos and the Lao/Thai of northern Thailand are all related to one another, but are separated by political boundaries. The Shan are ethnic minorities in Burma, so "khauk swe" isn't truly "Burmese" in the cultural sense, but we refer to it as such only because the Shan now live in Burma. The region in which Laos, Thailand, and Burma meet is known as the Golden Triangle. The Shan of Burma, the Lao of northern Laos, and the Thai of northern Thailand have the most in common with one another not just genetically, but linguistically and culturally as well. They have more in common with one another than they do with the others in the rest of Burma, Laos, and Thailand. However, due to politics and the building of a national identity, the ones living in the Shan state of Burma became "Burmese", the ones living in northern Laos are "Lao", and the ones living in northern Thailand are "Thai". So it shouldn't be a surprise that it seems very natural for northern Lao and northern Thai people to eat a Shan dish of Burma just like how the Shan of Burma also eat Lao and Thai dishes.

Favorite Dishes at Bay Area Lao Restaurants [Split from San Pablo: That Luang Kitchen thread]

Yes, it is popular there because those regions were influenced by Laos when Lao people migrated to those areas and brought Lao culinary traditions with them. There's plenty of websites that provide information about the culinary history of regions like northern Thailand (Lanna) and northeastern Thailand (Isan). Northern Thailand is primarily influenced by both Laos (i.e. sticky rice) and Burma (i.e. curry noodles), whereas Isan is primarily influenced by Laos since the Isan region used to be a territory of the Lao kingdom.

Vitamix or the Ninja?

I've used both and definitely prefer Vitamix over Ninja. Vitamix blenders are very heavy-duty and the included stir stick works like a charm.

Jul 07, 2012
yummyrice in Cookware

Chowdown report: Another vacation in Laos - in Santa Rosa!

>>"We started with marinated grilled chicken wings (crunchy and very tasty), followed by beef Pho with a great depth of flavor and my new found favorite Lao dish nam khao."

Hi jackiecat, I'm glad you mentioned about the soup. In case people don't already know, the Lao noodle soup you had is called "Feu" (or sometimes spelled "Fer" like Melanie mentioned). The name you mentioned, "Pho", is actually a Vietnamese noodle soup and so this name should only be used when talking about Vietnamese cuisine. However, in Lao cuisine, our soup is called "Feu". They sound similar to one another, but with different spellings, because both soups were derived from a French soup.

The Lao version has a more beefy and vegetable taste to it, whereas the Vietnamese version is lighter. The actual Lao name for our noodle soup is ເພື່ (in the Lao written language), which transliterates into English as "feu". Therefore, when discussing Lao cuisine, the "pho" spelling would be incorrect in this instance because in Lao phonetics, "pho" would be pronounced as po (a soft P sound). For an F sound in the Lao language, you would have to use the English letter F. However, in Vietnamese the F sound is spelled as "Ph".

The Lao name and spelling, ເພື່, corresponds to the French word "feu" (fire) from the name of the French soup, which is why "feu" is the original French spelling even when typing it in English. The Vietnamese spelling, "phở", is a transliteration of the French "feu" into the Vietnamese written language that is based on the Latin script.

Chowdown report: Another vacation in Laos - in Santa Rosa!

I'm thoroughly impressed with your adventure! You must have been quite stuffed! I'm glad you have photos to share as well. By the way, I know it's probably just a typo, but just in case you didn't know, the Lao dessert is called "Nam Van" (with an N, not an M), which literally means Sweet Water (Nam = water, Van = sweet). When typing in English, it's also sometimes spelled with a W instead of a V as in Nam Wan.

how do YOU cook bacon?!?

Wow...that sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. =)

Jun 28, 2012
yummyrice in Home Cooking

Where to find a Lao restaurant ?

Lao food is actually quite spicy. My Thai friends have told me many times that Lao foods are spicier than Thai foods as well as spicier than the Lao foods eaten in Issan. Remember that Laos has several regions and the regional cuisines are not identical to one another. Northern regional Lao cuisine is not as spicy as the central and southern regions of Laos where they prefer their foods very spicy. Some people tend to refer to Issan when talking about Lao foods for whatever reason, but they really should refer to the dishes in Laos itself when wanting to truly learn about Lao cuisine and the various papaya salad versions that exist in Laos. Pickled crab-style is only one version of Lao papaya salad. Some versions use fruits and some don't. Some are light on fish sauce and other ones are heavy on fish sauce. Some use crab paste and others don't, etc. Travel from northern Laos all the way down to southern Laos to sample all of the various styles.

Jun 28, 2012
yummyrice in Manhattan

Where to find a Lao restaurant ?

There are many versions of papaya salads in Laos since papaya salad is one of Laos' traditional dishes. Some versions use pickled crabs, some versions use Lao hog plum called "Mak Kok" (in Lao) or "Ma Kok Lao" (in Thai), and other versions don't use pickled crabs or Lao hog plums. So pickled crab is not a standard ingredient when making papaya salad in Laos. It really is up to the person making the papaya salad and what style they're craving in any particular day.

Jun 28, 2012
yummyrice in Manhattan

MSP: Somali or Hmong Food?

Yes, Hmongs in the U.S. are typically from Laos. In the U.S., they are known as "Hmong", but in Laos they are called "Lao Soung" meaning the highland Lao. Many of them settled in Minnesota and some have even opened Lao restaurants. Lao is the official nationality of Laos, so Hmongs who were Lao citizens before coming to the U.S. and becoming American citizens typically know how to cook Lao foods. As far as herbs used in Lao cuisine, we typically use lemongrass, galanga, garlic, kaffir leaves, ginger, and many other herbs. Lao cuisine is heavy on herbs. So any of those herbs may be used either individually or as a curry in Lao sausages. And yes, there are Lao sausages that use single herbs like galanga or ginger and then allowed to air dry, but overall we typically prefer a curry paste mix consisting of at least three herbs.

In search of Lao sausage

In reality, there's no such thing as a "Thai sausage". Those sausages sold at Thai restaurants are actually Lao sausages (either bought at ethnic markets that sell Lao sausages, bought from Lao sausage distributors, or made in-house using recipes for Lao sausages). Thai people typically eat Chinese sausages (sweet sausages) and Lao sausages (spicy and with herbs). Because of the increasing popularity of Lao sausages at both Lao restaurants and Thai restaurants, there are now Chinese companies that actually make their own Lao sausages and distribute them to various Asian markets including Chinese ones.

Jun 28, 2012
yummyrice in Greater Seattle

Green Champa Garden: laotian, lu-mein, thai [Fremont]

Hey you! Yes, it's been a long time. I'm glad to see that you're still around so it's good to know that there's plenty of good posts from you for me to catch up on. I will definitely check out those reports and see what else has been going on while I was away. To answer your question, there's usually Lao food festivals at the Wat Lao Rattanaram in Richmond. If it's not an actual "food festival", there's still usually plenty of Lao foods offered on the weekends. I don't know if it happens every weekend, but I've been to several of them already on the weekends. They're usually held right outside of the temple inside its parking lot area. I believe they had a festival about a week or two ago at the Wat Lao in Richmond, but I couldn't make it. For those who just want to try home cooked Lao foods, you could just go to any Lao temple on the weekend in the morning and offer donations if you like. Lao people would typically donate money or foods to the temples. The donated foods are then shared and served to the attendees for free in a communal setting. So it's a great way to sample Lao cooking and experience the communal and religious aspects of Lao culture.

Green Champa Garden: laotian, lu-mein, thai [Fremont]

Hi Robert. You may already know this, but in case other readers don't know, I'd like to provide additional information about laap for anyone who is reading along.

Laap/Larp/Laab/Larb - the many faces for the national dish of Laos:

Laap as a dish does not require any offal (i.e. tripe, gizzards, etc.). As someone who is from Laos, I can assure you that Lao people love contrasting textures in our foods. Therefore, we prefer to put things like offal in a traditional Lao dish like laap, but you have to remember that offal is something that is added to the dish meaning that it was never there in the first place until the person making the laap consciously adds it to the mixing bowl. So putting offal in the dish is just a preference, not a requirement. I've had plenty of so-called "Lao-style" laap that did not contain any offal at all because laap has nothing innately to do with offal, but the use of minced or chopped meats. Laap is a Lao word that means good luck. Having a large slab of meat on the table is not something the Lao particularly adore probably because of our Buddhist background, which is why we love a traditional Lao dish like laap because the meat has to be minced/chopped. It is believed to give good luck to the person who eats it, which is why laap is usually always served at Lao weddings and birthdays. Eating laap for good luck, health, and prosperity in Lao cuisine is similar to how the Chinese eat noodles because they believe it would give them long life. So if there is no offal at hand or the person making it simply does not like offal, then this laap version will be a simple laap rather than the "textured" or "exotic" kind with offal. Many owners of Lao restaurants want laap to sound exotic and unique by calling it "Lao-style" when adding offal, but in reality it is innately Lao-style with or without the use of any offal. In addition, the meat can be cooked or raw depending on the type of meat used in making laap.

Another common misconception is that laap cannot have any sour note. How much lemon juice or lime juice is added to laap depends on the person making the dish. Whether laap is non-sour, slightly, moderately, or super sour does not take away from it being Lao-style because laap in and of itself is innately Lao since it originated in Laos. How much sourness to add or whether offal is to be used is up to the Lao family's preference and it's also not rare to have at least one member of the family prefer her laap prepared differently than the rest of the family. Here's the thing about laap and sourness. It's not that "laap" cannot be tart or tangy, but that when it leans towards sour, then the dish is instead called "goi" in Lao cuisine. Goi is the tangy version of laap and is considered a separate dish in Lao cuisine despite the main difference being its more pronounced sourness. So if you prefer your laap on the sour side, simply ask for "Goi" instead of "Laap". Lao people would never go to a Lao restaurant and ask the waiter to make their laap sour. We would just order goi instead and save us the few extra words in having to tell the cook to modify the laap recipe. As long as the chef preparing Lao cuisine is a native Lao person or a foreigner who is thoroughly familiar with Lao cuisine, they will know what "Goi" is. Therefore, when a Lao person tells you that laap should never be too tangy or sour, what they should be telling you is that the dish is no longer called "laap" in Lao cuisine, but takes on a different name called "goi" in Lao cuisine. Lao restaurants should really be offering laap on their menus as either "Laap" or "Goi", rather than offering two supposedly different styles of laap when really one style is more tangy than the other and like I've already mentioned, the tangy version of laap actually has its own name called "Goi" and is treated as a separate dish. I'd like to think of it like this...a "tangy laap" is a "confused laap" that doesn't realize it's real name is actually "Goi" rather than "Laap". So would you rather eat a "confused laap" or simply just eat "goi"? =) There are at least two things that a waiter should ask you when taking orders for laap such as how spicy and whether to make it bitter (as some of you may already know, there are some people in Laos, especially men, who prefer to add some bitterness to their laap). So sourness is not something the waiter should be asking when taking orders for laap. However, if you're ordering goi, then it's okay to request that it be made according to your sourness preference.

The last misconception is that laap requires the use of fermented fish paste rather than simple fish sauce. Again, it really depends on the person's preference and the ingredients at hand. If I've got simple fish sauce in the cupboard, but no padaek (fermented fish paste/sauce), then I will make laap with simple fish sauce. If I've got padaek, but no simple fish sauce, then I will make laap with padaek. I've also made laap using both padaek and simple fish sauce in the same laap recipe. The fish sauce component is not what makes laap Lao-style or not because if someone is allergic to fish sauce/fish paste altogether, we can simply use salt and the dish will still be a dish called laap in Lao cuisine regardless of whether there is any fish sauce at all or what kind of fish sauce.

So the important thing is that the only true requirement for a dish to be called "laap"/"larp"/"laab"/"larb" is that the meat used in the dish has to be chopped or minced for the good luck aspect of it since, after all, the name given to this dish is from an actual Lao word for good luck, which again is "laap". If the meat is not chopped or minced, but sliced, then the dish now becomes a type of Lao salad called "Yum" and is no longer considered a dish of "good luck" because we want the luck to spread easily, hence chopping or mincing the meat. =)

In summary:

1) Laap (also "larp", "laab, and "larb") is a native dish of Laos and it's namesake is a Lao word for good luck. It is truly a staple food in Laos, which is why it's known as the national dish of Laos.

2) Laap has to be minced or chopped or else it becomes a different Lao dish called "Yum" or "Nyum". So there is no good luck if the meat is not minced or chopped.

3) Laap does not require any offal at all for it to still be considered a traditional dish.

4) Laap may be made with simple fish sauce, fermented fish sauce/paste, or salt.

5) Laap has a sourness limit, because when it leans more towards sour, then it takes on a new name called "Goi" and is considered a different dish in Lao cuisine. It's probably because no one wants to ask for their laap ("good luck") to turn "sour" when ordering the dish at a restaurant. =)

6) Laap should be ordered with these four things in mind: 1) "how spicy?", 2) "raw or cooked?", 3) "how bitter?", and 4) "with or without offal?". The waiter should never have to ask you "how sour?", because if you want sour, then simply ask for "goi" instead of laap. Remember, you do not want your good luck to turn sour. =)

My Tuesday Project: Oakland Chinatown Duck Noodle Soup Roundup

Daveena, thank you for introducing me to Gum Wah's duck noodle soup. It was absolutely delicious. The duck, the broth, and the noodles were all great. It was a very tasty soup. The broth wasn't bland at all and the duck was oh so yummy and full of flavor!

Gum Wah
345 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

Vientiane Cafe in Oakland for Lao?

They've actually updated the restaurant name to reflect their Lao offerings. There's now a new sign above the restaurant.

The restaurant is now called "Rose Garden Restaurant: Lao-Thai Cuisine".