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.
What’s your most memorable holiday food moment?
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