In Luang Prabang, Laos, we took a cooking class at the Three Elephants Café. Our class started with a tour of the local market where there were many foods that we had never seen before plus a few, such as chiles and garlic, that we had.
Lovely, well-informed and opinionated Ruth took us on the market tour, and then Leng Lee took over as our cooking instructor at the Three Elephants Café.
First course was a Luang Prabang Salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and cooked ground pork. The dressing is made from white wine vinegar, oil, salt, sugar and hard boiled eggs pureed in a food processor, a type of home-made mayonnaise, probably from the French influence when Laos was part of French Indochina.
Oh Paedak – Laos Pork Casserole, eggs & minced pork in a subtle blend of traditional Laos flavourings such as shallots, garlic, red chiles, lemongrass, galangal, paedak (shrimp paste), basil and spring onions.
The Laos people love the sour flavour, hence the unripe green papayas and a squeeze of lime used in the Green Papaya Salad.
‘Larb‘, mmm, also sometimes transliterated as ‘Laarb’ or ‘Larp’. Ground meat, banana flower, lime and lots of other flavourings and spices, often eaten rolled up in a lettuce leaf.
Our instructor Leng Lee demonstrates the ingredients for Larb:
From the video, ingredients for ‘Larb’ with notes: “one spring onion, 2 kaffir lime leaf, 2 lemongrass, 2 shallot, 2 garlic (cloves), rocket (arugula), coriander (cilantro), 2 Tbsp. banana flower (bitter flavour, substitute Belgian endive or omit), chilli powder, chicken meat, rice powder, chicken stock, paedak (shrimp paste), fried spring onion, now chop, lemon grass first…“
We also made ‘Feu Khua‘, fried rice noodles with chicken and vegetables…
Fried Eggplant with Pork…
¡JEOWBANG! a chilli paste whose name says it all!!!
And of course, the ubiquitous (at least in Laos) ‘Sticky Rice‘, and for dessert, Lime Pie. The lime pie recipe was very similar to my ‘Key Lime Pie’ recipe.
Although I don’t know of any Laos Restaurants here in Vancouver, the food of Northeast Thailand (Issan) is very similar. The ‘Issan’ menu from our ‘Thai Food Eating Class’ at Wimaan Restaurant on Broadway.
We took this cooking course in 2007 and I highly recommend it. The cooking classes are still running today (2014) but under the name Tamnak Lao which translates as Three Elephants Café. In 2016 the restaurant no longer seems to be running but others have sprung up to take its place.