Laotian cuisine is fairly simple. With the country’s close proximity to Thailand and Vietnam, its food has been greatly influenced by its neighbors’ own cuisines. Some dishes also have a touch of French cooking due to the long French rule over the country.

Laotian meals usually involve sticky rice. The gluten-rich rice is soaked in water before it is placed in a bamboo steamer. It is then stirred to keep it from becoming overly sticky. Laotians eat sticky rice by putting a small amount on the palm of one hand and shaping it into a ball. If desired, it can be dipped into a bowl of chili paste.

If sticky rice is not available, most Laotians substitute it with noodles.

Nevertheless, the following dishes are a must-try with or without sticky rice.

Laap

One of the most common Laotian dishes, laap is basically a salad made of minced meat (chicken, pork, or duck). It is prepared by mixing crushed rice grains, spices, and finely chopped meat. It is best served with fresh vegetables and sticky rice.

Som moo

Som moo is fermented or soured pork sausage. Popular among locals, especially with kids, it can be enjoyed almost anywhere in the country. Som moo can take many forms; it can be made plainly with pork or pork skin, or mixed with herbs. It can also be eaten raw or cooked.

Tam Mak Houng

Perhaps the easiest dish to find in the region, tam mak houng is famous among tourists. The dish is composed of green papaya, chili, peanuts, lime juice, sugar, garlic, and fermented fish sauce, so each bite can be an amazing gastronomical adventure. It is best eaten with sticky rice to balance the flavor.

Pho

Originally from Vietnam, pho is a noodle soup with beef, meatballs, and/or cow’s internal organs like heart, tongue, liver, etc. It can be seasoned with basil, cilantro, onions, lime, and tomato.

Lao coffee

If you’re a coffee lover, you can’t let this lifetime pass you by without tasting Laotian coffee. After all, the Bolovens Plateau of Laos is considered the best place for coffee cultivation in the whole of Southeast Asia.

Coffee in Laos is sometimes called bag coffee because it is brewed with a bag filter, making a strong concentrate.

To make Lao coffee, a fifth of the glass is filled with condensed milk. The concentrated coffee brew is carefully poured into the glass, atop the condensed milk. Then hot water is added to complete the delicious mix!

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