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Lao Foods

Lao Foods


Luang Prabang, a big producer of rice in northern Laos

It might say that Luang Prabang is one of the rice & food plentiful cities in the country. Due to there are two main rivers through Luang Prabang which are Mekong and Khan River. The people not only get the benefits from these 2 rivers in their daily life, but these rivers still be the big inland fishery for all people here. These benefits involve for both their household consumption and for commercial applications. We can see from the restaurant services to the tourists in Luang Prabang, must have variety menus that cook from Mekong River fish in almost all.

Moreover from the above mentioned contribution, the river also flow some sediments, natural minerals from the different places combined together that makes the river clay & soil full of fertile and it is very suitable for agriculture. Those who have been visited Luang Prabang might see during in dry season that there are many kitchen vegetables growing of these along the 2 riverside. They get fully benefits from the river without the need for fertilizers or any other chemicals. Furthermore, all of these vegetables that cook for both local people and sell to the visitors are non-toxic, non pesticides that are good for the customer’s health as well.  It can be notice that there are many types of Lao foods which contains of the variety of vegetables in both cooking into the foods and being the side dishes.  










When rainy season comes at "Nam Bak District" which are located in the north of Luang Prabang is the place for people for shrimp grapping. This kind of shrimp is not large. (around the index finger or middle finger) but its price is high up to 20 USD per kilogram. "Nam Bak Shrimp" or "Muang Ngoi Shrimp" it does not have smell. It can be cooked several ways such as spicy soup with Lao herbs or Spicy clear soup. But the most famous dish is “Deep fried shrimps” with salt and added some oyster sauce. It can be eaten without taking the crust out. It is famous throughout the country. It will have only in the rainy (3-4 months) season. Have to wait another year ever. However, as its price is high and limited quantity (because it really on the natural growth) so there is only the large restaurant order for sales. If anyone has a chance to visit Luang Prabang during that period, we are serious to recommend trying it. You will absolutely impress with the freshness and good taste of this kind of shrimps.

By the way, there are many people understand that “Lao Foods” are the foods same as Thai E-San (north east of Thailand) style. This idea is only half corrected as Lao Foods which is similar with Thai Foods are the foods cooked in South of Laos but not here ... Luang Prabang.

It is well known that Luang Prabang is the city located in the north and it was former the capital of the Lane Xang kingdom. That effect to Northern Lao foods with “Tai Muang Luang” taste (the nickname of Luang Prabang people called by all Laotian) has more formal and neat in preparing and cooking than Lao foods from the other parts. Actually, it might be affected from the royal palace (National Bureau of Lane Xang). It makes Luang Prabang foods different from foods in the other region. It distinguished in their taste. Luang Prabang authentic foods taste is the lightest among the foods from three parts of Laos. Its taste is not too spicy, no chili, also deep fry and stir fry are not popular. But it will be cooked by steam and boiled instead. As most people said that the Luang Prabang foods are the aristocrat or royal foods.

But nowadays, Luang Prabang is a world heritage town, visited by a lot of number of visitors as number one of the country. It effected to the development of Luang Prabang foods consistency to meet the needs of consumers (tourists) from many countries. However, the visitors can also find some authentic foods in Luang Prabang style in some restaurants in the main cities such as Luang Prabang and Vientianr the capital.


The sample of local “Luang Prabang” foods

 “Aho Larm”

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“Aho Larm” is the local food in Luang Prabang city only which cannot be found in the other parts of Laos. The important ingredients are sticky rice, beans, chili, eggplants, lemon grass, gourd, black mushrooms and the most important is “Sa Kan" (a kind of vine with acerbity taste). This food will not be “Aho Larm” without “Sa Kan”. “Aho Larm” looks like boiled mixed vegetables or “Gang Ho” (Thai northern style) as it takes all ingredients mixed together and boiled. But it looks more sticky as the sticky rice be simmer until thicken. It spends quite long time to cook “Aho Larm”. Luang Prabang people in the past would prepare and cooked in the special ceremony only.


“Mok Pla” (Steamed Mekong fish and herbs wrapped in banana leaf)










It is Lao food which looks like “Hor Mok” in Thai food style. The ingredients are sticky rice, lemon grass, onion, dill, basil leaves, chili and garlic mixed with chicken or fish. Mixed meat and ingredients together and wrapped with banana leave before steam.


“Mok Pla Fok”

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This kind of Lao food needs to be cooked with fish only. “Fok” is the ancient Laos word it mean crush or trample. Doing by take fist fillet trampled and mixed with egg, fresh coconut, shallots, coriander root together, wrapped in banana leaves and then steam. 

Vegetable Soup










It called soup but this food is not soup as we normally mean. It looks like kind of salad. The ingredients are boiled vegetables mixed with sesame, grilled shallots & garlic, grilled ginger, roasted chili. People like to eat with fried crispy rice or “Kao Kop” (Deep fried sticky rice). 


Luang Prabang Salad











It is one of famous food because of its neutral flavor; both Asian and European visitors can try. The most important ingredient is “Pak Nam” which is a kind of local vegetables found in the forest, beside the clean running water river. It is believed that this “Pak Nam” can treat the patients who has problem with their lung as well. Other ingredients include yams, cucumber, tomato, boiled egg, lettuce, boiled mince pork topped with salad dressing, also put some fried garlic and ground peanuts. 

Minced Turkey Spicy Salad

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Turkey came into Luang Prabang kitchen during the time the city governed by French. Minced turkey spicy salad is often made to celebrate the special occasion such as wedding, house blessing etc. it makes by chopping the turkey and fried without oil and mixed with dried banana blossom, fried shallots and garlic, fried rice, roasted chili, added some lemon and topped with mint leaves.

Jaw Maak Len (Luang Prabang style chili paste & tomoto)

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It is a kind of dipped condiments in the traditional of Luang Prabang people. Its taste is not too spicy and look like “Nam Pik Noom” (in Northern Thai food style) but it added with some tomatoes (Mak Len) it will serve with fresh or boiled vegetables. This menu is recommended to try once.

Khao Soi Luang Prabang

Khao Soi, Luangprabang










The name "Khao Soi" would make many people to think of “Chiang Mai Khao Soi” but in fact is that Khao Soi Luang Prabang, mean a noodles soup and topped with Khao Soi ingredients (Lao calls Nam Khao Soi), which consists of minced pork, pork skin and tomatoes. Take all ingredients to stir fried and seasoning sauce. After finish, put in the freezer containers stored in the refrigerator.

“Kai Pan” & “Jaew Bong”











"Kai" is a fresh-water alga in the family of Zygnemataceae. It shapes as long line as the women's hair with green color. It grows as a group in the area of water flowing through the creek and clean out the archives around the end of November. The river is still clean at that time and full of the water amount, whenever the amount of water reduce or raining which make river full of clay, the people will stop looking for this algae.

After getting some “Kai” then people will make it cleaned and remove some dirt, sand off completely. Then taking “Kai” into the water and after that take tamarind juice mixed with ginger, galangal, garlic, onion, tomatoes, added some MSG and salts, then wait until it drained. Take “Kai” spread on the place with dry grasses, making it to be the thin sheet. After that toppled with sesame seeds, take it dried by the sun. Lastly, keep it as a roll of the cloth.

Whenever we would like to have it cut into the small pieces and fried in the hot enough oil, quick frying is needed same as dip it into the hot oil and take it up suddenly, otherwise “Kai” will be burned and taste bitter. We should have deep fried “Kai” during it is still hot, otherwise it will be sticky once getting cold and not tasty.


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"Jaew Bong" is a kind of chili paste but not much oily as “Nam Prick Pao” (Thai style chili paste) It is not dry as grilled fish fillet plate. The important ingredient is small piece of pork or beef skin mixed in the plate. (some recipes do not) It makes crunchy when we have it. Deep fried piece of “Kai” is like a snack or side dish that people in Luang Prabang like to eat with “Jaew Bong” for more flavored and tasty.



Normal Lao Foods

French Bread, Luangprabang










"Baguette bread(Khao Jee) is French bread. It is Lao famous breakfast as convenience and easy to have it. There are both baguette stuff with meats & vegetables and baguette served with fried egg, ham and cheese as American breakfast. It wills tastier when has drink some Lao coffee together.


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"Pho" (Vietnamese Noodle Soup) we can have "Pho" easily and found it everywhere in Laos. “Pho” looks like noodles that Lao got this food influenced from Vietnam. There are “Pho” with pork and beef, thick or thin rice noodle and egg noodles as the selection. It is more delicious once have “Pho” served with variety of fresh vegetables, anyone who like some hot & spicy taste it can put some chili into “Pho” and have some more sour by pickled papaya and mango.


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“Khao Peik Sen” also known as Vietnamese noodle, it’s similar as “Pho” but the difference is the noodle itself. It looks like rice noodle but much larger. It made from sticky rice flour to thicken the soup; mostly this kind of food will have boiled shredded chicken and topped with fried shallots, celery and onion, most popular to have it with "Khao Kob" (Deep fried sticky rice). 


Khao Pun, Luangprabang









“Khao Pun” is a type of Luang Prabang breakfast. It is similar with clear soup with pork or beef but it also put some rice noodle or “Khao Pun”. There are both clear soup and spicy soup for your selection.










"Khao Lang Fuen" this kind of food has the affected from “Tai Lue” food. It’s like steamed rice flour, eat with sauce made from tomatoes (Maak Len) tamarind juice, mixed with boiled peanuts. Whenever we would like to eat, cut it into a cube like dice, then topped with sauce. Garnish with coriander. It is more popular as light meal during the day than the big meal.


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“Yaw Dip” / “Yaw Jeun” (Vietnamese spring rolls) It consists of a sheet of rice flour. (the same kind used to wrapped in “Nam Nueng”) put some lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumbers or carrots, some rice, small pieced of boiled pork. If people eat it in this style, it called “Yaw Dip” but if we put it to be deep fried; it called “Yow Jeun”


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“Nam Lueng” it also Vietnamese food (call Ban Saew) made of one kind of flour, once fried it into the pan we will flip the pan to spread the dough to be thin sheet and crispy. During the time we wait this dough good cooked, put mixed vegetables, “Moo Yaw” (boiled pork with herbs) or “Nam Som” (fresh fermented pork) preserved pork and put egg into the dough. When it cooked in good condition and wrapped into a square shape, serve with spicy sauce. This menu is another popular menu for the light meal during the day. 

Special thanks for information and images: Antique House Restaurant Mekong Riverside Wat That Village Luang Prabang, Laos PDR. Tel: (856) 20 556 193 91, E-mail: [email protected]

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