Ping paa left and far right and various ping (grilled) meat centre
Ping paa – whole fish, stuffed with knotted stems of lemongrass, clamped between a bamboo device and grilled over hot coals at the night food market in Luang Prabang, Laos. Lemony, meltingly soft flesh – that we picked clean from the bones with plastic chopsticks – and crisp-thin, lightly charcoaled skin made this fish lip-smackingly scoffable. The stray cats that nudged our ankles and shared our spoils agreed.
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Read more about Laotian food at Laos: a culinary trail.
Basket of ingredients, Tamarind cooking class
Stuffed lemongrass. It sounds like trying to push a square through a triangle-shaped hole, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought when I first saw the dish on a menu in Laos.
I could imagine the subtle citrus flavour permeating the stuffed ingredients, which tend to be a mixture of minced chicken or pork, chopped spring onions or shallots, and aromatics such as coriander and kaffir lime leaves – depending on who’s manning the mortar and pestle. But I couldn’t picture how you would tunnel out the interior of a stalk of lemongrass and stuff it. My curiosity was piqued. Continue reading
Night market, Luang Prabang, Laos
If there is a national pastime in Laos it’s snacking, so this south-east Asian hideaway is the perfect destination for those with an appetite for gastronomic adventure. Our trip was defined as much by the local dishes we devoured as it was by the places we explored and the culture we tapped into. Here are my top ten gastronomic memories of Laos. Continue reading