Issan Pork Salad (Yum Mu Issan)

1 Pound Pork Steak or Similar Cut of meat
1 Cup Fresh Thai chile peppers
1/4 Cup Tamarind Sauce (50% concentrate 50% water)
1/4 Cup Fish Sauce
1 Cup Onions, Thinly Sliced
2 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Ginger
1/2 Cup Chopped Coriander Leaves

Barbeque or grill the meat to the desired degree of done-ness.

Roast the chilis in a moderate oven (or grill them), until the skin begins to change color. Grind the chilis to a pulp and add equal parts of tamarind sauce and fish sauce until the whole forms a slightly fluid paste.

Cut the pork diagonally across the grain into eigth inch thick slices, and cut the slices into 1″ long pieces and then toss with the sauce and allow to marinade for about 24 hours. Add the onions and ginger and coriander leaves.

Toss (as a salad is tossed) and serve on a bed of lettuce with a bowl of sticky rice or Thai jasmine rice.

Laotian Duck and Cucumber Stir-Fry

5 medium cucumbers or 2 telegraph cucumbers, washed (choose young ones with thin, edible skin and small seed core if possible)
1/2 duck breast with skin (or equivalent in thigh meat and skin)
1 T garlic, chopped
2 T fish sauce
2 T thin soy sauce
1 T chicken stock powder (optional)
3 T oyster sauce
1/2 t sugar
1 t chilli paste to taste (optional)
1/4 C spring onion greens, finely sliced

Method

Separate the duck skin from the flesh, reserving fat. Slice the fat into 1 cm (1/2 in) pieces and the skin into 2 cm (1 in) slices. Set aside. Slice the duck meat finely across the grain. Set aside.

Toss the chopped fat and skin into a heated wok set over a medium flame. Allow the fat to render down and the skin to fry until golden brown and crisp. At this stage (there will be a change in the frying sound and a fragrance released), push the crisp skin to one side. While the skin and fat are cooking, prepare the cucumbers.

Peel the cucumbers if the skin is tough and bitter; cucumber is used in this dish to impart sweetness. Slice them in thin diagonal wedges, creating slices that taper off about two-thirds of the way through the cucumber.

Add the chopped garlic to the rendered fat and then the meat. Stir fry several minutes until the colour changes. Add the crisp duck skin and then the cucumber. Mix together and stir fry until all is heated through and starting to cook. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce, stock powder, oyster sauce, optional chilli paste and sugar, briefly stirring between each addition to distribute the flavours evenly and merge them together.

Cover and let cook for a few more minutes. The moisture from the cucumbers should be released to form a tasty sauce with the other flavourings, but the vegetable must not be overcooked. It should remain crisp.

Taste for flavour and adjust. Stir in the spring onion greens. Transfer to a serving bow

Lao Soop Pak

1 C Chinese cabbage, cut in small, loose leaf pieces 7 cm (2 – 3in)
1 C cauliflower flowerets (or other white vegetable)
3 fingers sized amount of bamboo shoots, pre-cooked, finely sliced (optional)
3 long beans, cut into 4 cm (1½ in) pieces (or 10 green beans)
1 bunch sawtooth herb, three fingers-width, tailed and cut in half (or coriander leaves)
1/2 – 1 C collard greens (or bok choi ), cut in 4 cm (1½ in) pieces
2 – 3 stems dill, cut into 4 cm (1½ in) lengths
2 very large or 4 medium oyster mushrooms, torn in 1 – 2 cm (½ in) wide shreds
1 large bowlful water with 1 teaspoon of salt for refreshing vegetables
1/2 large head garlic, strung on toothpicks or satay sticks for grilling
3 or more red chillies (amount to taste or omit), strung on toothpicks for grilling
2 thin slices galangal or ginger
2 T to 1/3 C sesame seeds, dry roasted. A mixture of white and black seeds is desirable, although white alone is fine.
2 T soy sauce, padek or fish sauce (or to taste)
8 C water

Method

Prepare the vegetables as described, placing the readied ones in a large bowl. Add water and 1 teaspoon of salt. Rinse vegetables in the brine, picking off any wilting pieces. Let soak briefly.

Put fresh water into the bottom of a steamer or a sticky rice pot and bring to the boil.

Toast the sesame seeds. Place in a mortar. Pound until most of the seeds are broken. Remove and set aside.

When the water comes to the boil, tip the vegetables into the steamer, allow them to drain and then place the steamer over the boiling water. Steam for 10 – 15 minutes depending on preferred crispness.

Roast the garlic and chillies. Cool. Remove their charred skins. Add the peeled garlic, chillies and galangal/ ginger to the mortar. Pound until a paste forms. Adding a dash of salt helps the blending.

When the vegetables are ready, toss them briefly in the steamer to expel the steam. Invert the steamer over a low-sided, wide bowl. Let the vegetables cool. Sprinkle them with the pounded sesame seeds and the pounded galangal/ginger and garlic paste. Add 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Gently use your hands to mix the ingredients together well. Taste and adjust with sauce if needed.

Turn into a serving bowl, garnish with coriander and serve as part of a Lao meal. This dish goes well with sticky rice or can be used as a picnic dish.

Luang Prabang Watercress Salad

Salad

1 large bunch watercress (or 1 cup Chinese or regular celery leaves or 1 cup rocket)
4 eggs, hard-boiled, whites only; reserve the yolks for the dressing
2 C mesclun using whatever greens are available
1/2 C coriander leaves
1/2 C mint leaves
1 cucumber, peeled and sliced
10 cherry tomatoes or 2 medium tomatoes

Dressing

1/3 C light oil
4 T garlic, chopped
4 egg yolks, chopped
3 T sugar
2 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
4 T lime juice

To finish

1/4 C dry-fried peanuts, chopped

Method

Heat a wok or pan and dry fry the peanuts. Set the nuts aside to cool. When cool, chop.

Heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and fry until golden brown, stirring frequently so it does not burn (about 2 minutes).

While the garlic is frying, mix together the chopped egg yolks, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce in a deep bowl or screw-top jar. When the garlic is ready, remove it from the heat and cool. Add the garlic and its cooking oil to the mixture. Whisk or shake to blend well.

Add the lime juice and mix. Taste and adjust the sugar and lime juice.

Wash the watercress thoroughly in clean water; drain and discard any thick stems. Cut cherry tomatoes in halves. If using larger tomatoes, cut into wedges about 1 cm (½ in) thick at the widest part.

Assemble the salad on a large, flat plate or in a bowl by forming a bed of watercress which is topped with the other herbs and leaves, tomatoes and sliced egg whites in a nice pattern. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and sprinkle the chopped peanuts over the whole. Serve the salad immediately, as it will quickly wilt.

Variations

For a sweeter version, reduce the lime juice; for a sourer version, increase the lime juice. Do not reduce the sugar amount. Equal or other sugar substitute may be used as a replacement sweetener.

The number of eggs can be reduced to 2 or 3. The dressing will be thinner.

Save any remaining dressing in a screw-top jar and refrigerate for later use.

Jeow Bong (Luang Prabang Chili Sauce)

3 large heads of garlic (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shallots
1 thumb-size piece of galangal chopped into small pieces
1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt
1 – 2 tablespoons dark red, roasted chilli flakes
2 teaspoons palm sugar
Water or fish sauce to thin, if needed

Roast or grill the garlic and shallots until cooked through. Meanwhile, in a mortar pound the galangal.

Peel the garlic cloves and shallots, add to the mortar along with the salt and pound to a paste. Stir in the chilli flakes. Add the sugar and pound to mix. Taste and add water, fish sauce (or soy sauce for vegetarians) or more chilli flakes.

Transfer the mixture to a small frying pan and dry fry on a very low heat for 10 minutes until rich, dark and aromatic. The flavour develops over time.

Khao Soi Meat Sauce (Lao Pork Sauce) for Soup

4 big cloves garlic
1 cup fermented soybean paste (actually 3 heaped Chinese soup spoons)
3 – 4 tablespoons (actually 2 heaped Chinese soup spoons) mild chilli powder, brightly coloured – not from bird’s eye chillies
3 – 4 tablespoons (actually 2 heaped Chinese soup spoons) coarser dried chilli flakes
750 g fatty pork such as belly pork, minced (3 big handfuls when minced), or a mix of pork and beef which is evidently especially delicious.
1 cup palm oil (or other vegetable oil, but not coconut, mustard or olive oil)
Salt to taste
MSG to personal taste
2 tomatoes, sliced in small wedges

Put the garlic cloves and ½ teaspoon of salt in a mortar and pound for a minute.

In a hot wok or frying pan, add the cup of oil. When heated, slip in the garlic mixture and fry while moving it about until the garlic is browned. Before it burns (!!), add about 1 cup of tua nao paste and stir to mix. Continue to fry together until the oil returns.

Add the two types of chilli and keep on frying, while moving the sauce around the pan.

Add the tomato slices and stir fry until the moisture comes out. The paste is ready when it smells good and the tomato has started disintegrating.

Add the minced pork, 2 teaspoons more salt (or to taste) and 1 – 2 tablespoons of MSG. (Remember, this is a very concentrated sauce expected to last a few days refrigerated (hence the oil, salt and pork fat) and to serve many people).

Keep on frying until the meat is thoroughly cooked then thin with water to a thick Western savory mince consistency. Then, um, add another tablespoon of MSG and stir to mix in. Continue to cook until the oil returns again and then transfer to a deep bowl to cool. In the cold, the fat in the sauce will solidify. It is the oil, chilli and reduced water content that preserves the sauce.

For soup:

Rice noodles

250 g pork bits

Half a pot of water (2 – 4 litres depending on how many people you have to feed, ours fed four with plenty left over. Don’t worry about the quantity because all the flavour comes from the sauce and condiments added later. This bland soup is to heat the noodles and cook the pork which is added to the dish when serving.)

Bring the water to the boil. Add the slices of fatty pork. Simmer away while preparing the accompaniments until the meat is cooked.

Accompaniments and garnish:

Finely chopped or sliced spring onions and coriander leaves, 1 tablespoon for each bowl being served

Pea or soy bean tendrils (or Chinese flowering cabbage), raw or blanched, to your taste

Lettuce, fresh

Coriander (cilantro), smallest you can get, roots removed, fresh

MSG or Soy sauce

lime wedges or juice

crunchy and feather-light beef rinds

Put two thirds of a bowl of noodles in each bowl and top it up with the boiling stock.

Add the pork, a good hit of the meat sauce (1 very heaped Chinese spoonful, 3 – 4 level tablespoons) and sprinkle over the chopped spring onion and coriander.

Each bowl is served piping hot and ready to doctor with any or all of the condiments and additional spicy meat sauce.

Tai Neua Jaew (Laotian Ginger, Garlic, and Soybean Paste)

1 knob ginger, the size of three fingers
6 big garlic cloves
15 small dried chillies, not bird’s eye chillies
3 – 4 tablespoons (2 rounded Chinese soup spoons) fermented tua nao paste or substitute such as miso or Korean fermented bean paste
3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
1 tablespoon MSG
Salt, added depending on the saltiness of the khao soi paste

Pound the garlic in a mortar with half a teaspoon of salt for a minute and then add the ginger. When the paste is well integrated and squishy, remove it to a bowl and set aside.

String the chillies on a skewer and roast over the fire or gas flame or under an electric grill until semi blackened but not immolated. Deskewer into the empty mortar and pound until well mixed and broken up.

Then add thefermented bean paste and pound again. Put the ginger and the garlic paste back into mortar, pound a bit and add the sugar and MSG until all is well mixed. Taste and adjust the levels of salt, sugar and MSG to suit your own taste.

Jaew Mak Len (Lao Grilled Tomato Salsa)

Jaew Mak Len

For grilling:
10 medium tomatoes
1 head of garlic
1 large shallot
chiles (your preference)

For mixing:
1 large bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 large handful of green onions, chopped
a glug of fish sauce
squeezed lime juice to taste
pinch of salt

First grill the vegetables, skins on, until blackened. (Laos traditionally cook over an open flame, not gas.) Peel off garlic and shallot skins, as well as the most blackened parts of tomato and chile skin.

Pound the vegetables in a mortar with a pinch of salt.

Add chopped cilantro, green onion and fish sauce; pound a bit more. Taste. Add more of anything needed. If it is too sour or bitter, add a pinch of sugar. Serve with sticky rice.

Hmong Chile-Peanut Dipping Sauce

2 T fish sauce
juice of 1 lime
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp MSG, optional
1-2 fresh red chile peppers, minced
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
4 green onions, white and green parts
1 small tomato, chopped (or 6 cherry tomatoes or 15 grape tomatoes)
2 T chopped raw peanuts
1 T peanut butter

In a small bowl, mix fish sauce, lime juice, salt, sugar and MSG if you are using it. Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved.

Next, add the chile peppers, cilantro, green onions, tomatoes and peanuts. add the peanut butter and stir until the sauce is of uniform consistency.

Laotian Stir Fried Fish with Chili and Holy Basil

A healthy portion of white fish, thinly sliced in small pieces (anything that holds together well, without an overpowering fishy flavor)
Lots of garlic
Hot red chile, sliced thinly
Pinch of palm sugar
Pinch of bouillon or 1/4 cup soup stock
Drizzle of dark soy sauce
Heap of fresh holy basil

Heat the garlic and chile in a hot wok with oil. Stir. Toss in the fish and stir-fry quickly on high heat. Add a little water, sugar and soup or bouillon. Stir, then add basil and soy sauce, primarily for color. That’s it! It’s quick.

The dish should be hot, but not be overly sweet. It is similar to the Thai stir-fry with chile and basil, “but different cooking. In Thai, more oil, more sugar. In Lao, little oil, little sugar, more chile.”

Coconut Pandan Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients
1/2 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups hot water
14 ounce full fat coconut milk canned
1/2 teaspoon Pandan extract
1/3 cup sweetener or sugar

Mix the hot water in with the chia seeds. Using hot water causes the chia seeds to absorb the water and swell much faster than tap water–which means your pudding will be done sooner and you can eat sooner!

I mean, that’s really the only thing you need to know. Other than that, mix everything together, and let it chill.

The chia will make it gel and set into a pudding, and coconut milk will make it creamy, and the pandan will make it delicious.

Pressure Cooker Pandan Custard

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup sweetener of choice
3-4 drops pandan extract
Green food coloring (optional)

Blend together the eggs, milk, sweetener and the pandan extract, and pour it into a 6-inch heatproof bowl. Cover with foil.

Place 2 cups of water into your liner, place a trivet in the liner, and place your bowl onto the trivet.

Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes and let it release pressure naturally. A knife inserted into the custard should come out clean.

Cool in refrigerator until the custard is set.

Ideas for Egg Lunches: Nam Jim Jaew

Tamarind pulp 1-1/2 tablespoons
Fish sauce 2 tablespoons
Ground red chili, or dried red chili flakes for the less spicy version, 1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon (as much or as little as you prefer, actually)
Palm sugar 1/4 teaspoon
Toasted rice 1/4 teaspoon – 2 teaspoons can be added (the more toasted rice the thicker the sauce would be)
Chopped green onion 1/2 – 1 teaspoon

Simple… just mix them all together.

Coconut Rice

2 cups jasmine rice
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes

Soak the rice in water for 15 minutes. Drain. Add the drained rice to a medium pot. In a 2-4 cup capacity wet measuring cup, pour in the can of coconut milk, and then add water until you hit just under 2 cups of liquid total. Add to the pot, along with the sugar and salt.

Put the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, immediately gift the pot a stir, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff the rice with a fork, and keep covered until ready to serve.

Just before serving, stir in the toasted coconut flakes.

Fragrant Peanuts

1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts
20-30 kaffir lime Leaves, cut in thin strips
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, finely sliced
3/4 cup galangal, finely sliced
8 stalks lemongrass, white part only, finely sliced
3 red Thai chili, finely sliced (remove seeds if you don’t want too spicy; reduce chilis if you want even less heat)
1?2 tsp salt

3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp salt

Heat oil so it is shimmering but not super hot.

Put in a strand of lime leaf – it should become crispy but remain green. If the oil is too hot, and leaf becomes brown, reduce heat. Add the rest of the lime leave strips and fry until crisp but still green – takes under a minute! Ideally, using a skimmer (or strainer) remove leaves. Drain on paper towel, season with 1?2 tsp salt,; gently pull strands apart with fingers.

In the same pan with the hot oil, fry the onions and galangal until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the lemongrass and chili. Cook until all vegetables are fairly crispy. Season with 1?2 tsp salt and set aside.

Heat peanuts in the oil briefly and remove. Toss with the crispy vegetables (except the fried lime lime leaf strands) and season generously with sugar and salt (3 parts sugar:1 part salt). Keep replacing paper towels until nuts are less oily.

Once seasoned, add fried lime leaf strands, toss. Taste and adjust to your liking!

Notes
Using Lemongrass – bend a stalk and see where it naturally breaks. Use the white part of the lemongrass but be sure off the entire woody end.

Galangal is in the ginger family but has a much more pungent, complex spicy flavor that mellows a bit when cooked. It is woodier in texture than ginger, so be sure your knife is sharp.

If you have rubber gloves, wear them when dealing with the Thai chilies!

Once you are done with the oil, don’t throw away!!! It is now a wonderfully flavorful oil you can use to sauté the chicken patties or any other dish for that matter!

Perfect Soy-Grilled Steak

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon peeled and minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon peeled and minced garlic
1 tablespoon honey, molasses or hoisin sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 16- to 24-ounce boneless steak (rib-eye, skirt or strip), or one 24- to 32-ounce bone-in steak (rib-eye or T-bone)

Start a charcoal or wood fire or heat a gas grill; the fire should be hot and the rack no more than 4 inches from the heat source. Mix together the first 6 ingredients; taste and add more of anything you like. Turn the steak in the sauce once or twice, then let sit in the sauce until the grill is hot.

Turn the steak one more time, then place on the grill; spoon any remaining sauce over it. For rare meat, grill about 3 minutes a side for steaks less than an inch thick. For larger or more done steak, increase the time slightly.

Thai Stir Fry Sauce (for any vegetable)

2 tablespoons Thai oyster sauce 
1 teaspoon Thai fish sauce 
1 teaspoon Thai thin soy sauce
Small pinch ground white pepper 
2 tablespoons vegetable oil 
11 grams peeled garlic cloves, halved lengthwise and lightly crushed into small pieces in a mortar (about 1 tablespoon) 
6 grams fresh Thai chiles (about 4), preferably red, thinly sliced 
1/4 cup Sup Kraduuk Muu (Pork stock), or water 
1 teaspoon granulated sugar 
10 ounces lightly steamed bok choy, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, or any other vegetable

Combine the oyster sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, and white pepper in a small bowl and stir well. 

Heat a wok over very high heat, add the oil, and swirl it in the wok to coat the sides. When it begins to smoke lightly, add the garlic, take the wok off the heat, and let the garlic sizzle, stirring often, until it’s fragrant but not colored, about 15 seconds. 

Put the wok back on the heat, and add the vegetables and chiles. Stir-fry (constantly stirring, scooping, and flipping the ingredients) for 30 seconds to infuse the sprouts with the garlic flavor. Add the oyster sauce mixture (plus a splash of water, if necessary, to make sure nothing’s left behind in the bowl), and stir-fry until the vegetables are tender but still crunchy and the liquid in the pan has almost completely evaporated, about 45 seconds. 

Add the stock, then add the sugar and stir-fry until the vegetables are tender with a slight crunch and the sauce has thickened slightly but is still very liquidy–about 30 seconds.

Transfer the vegetables and sauce to a plate in a low mound, and serve. 

Nam Jim Jaew

1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon galangal powder, optional
1/3 cup fish sauce
Juice of one lime
2 teaspoons grated palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tablespoon of toasted rice powder (Khao Khua ????????)
1 tablespoon of dried red pepper flakes (coarsely ground)

Mix everything together in a bowl.
Adjust the taste with more fish sauce, lime juice, or sugar, if necessary. The sauce should be predominantly sour and salty.

Nam Jim Seafood

Fish sauce 1 tablespoon
Lime juice 1 tablespoon
Garlic, minced 1 teaspoon
Cilantro stems, minced 2 teaspoons
(Optional) Granulated sugar a pinch, or 1/2 teaspoon
(Optional) Crushed fresh green chili (jalapeño or bird’s-eye) 1/2 – 1 teaspoon

Simple method: mix them all together. This is a sauce that you make as you need it and never make too much of.