In Lao we were introduced to a new concept of salad named Larp (also known as laap or larb). Larp is a wonderful meat salad, a classic within Laotian cuisine, consistent and delicate at the same time, easy to make but complex in textures, definitely not just a simple greens salad. Being the salad lover that I am, you can imagine how happy I was when we found out that a salad was one of the most traditional Lao dishes.
Larp can be made of chicken, fish, beef, tofu or pork. The minced meat is cooked in a wok with just a little bit of water. Once cooked, it’s set aside and mixed with finely sliced banana flower, kaffir lime leaves, spring onions, shallots, garlic, coriander, lemon grass and rocket leaves. One of the key ingredients is the rice powder, which gives the salad a very interesting and different texture. Rice powder is just roughly ground toasted rice that is used together with fish sauce and lime juice to make the dressing for the salad. If you are looking for a new type of salad I would recommend you give this one a go, so simple to make and so tasty that you won’t be disappointed!
Aside Larp, salad addicts like me can satiate their addiction with another two types of tasty salads: Luang Prabang Salad and Papaya salad.
Luang Prabang salad, probably an invention for the tourist palate, is a delicious summer salad which main secret resides on its yummy dressing. This dressing resembles to mayonnaise but it’s made with boiled egg yolks instead of fresh eggs. Drizzle this lovely mayo over greens, cucumber, tomatos and eggs, and sprinkle it a few chopped salted peanuts before serving it. Fresh, crunchy and delicious, great to accompany any meat or fish dish.
Papaya salad, a shredded papaya salad, is one of the most popular salads around South East Asia. Though we initially thought this salad was originally from Thailand, we have come to know that this salad is a Laotian creation. Green unripened papaya is shredded and then mixed with green beens and halved cherry tomatoes. The dressing is normally made in a mortar, mixing dried shrimp, garlic, toasted peanuts, fish sauce, lime juice, chilies and sugar. The vegs and papaya are thoroughly mixed with the dressing before serving so that the greens get well impregnated. If you are not too keen on very fishy flavours, and if like me you suffer with very spicy food, it is important that you ask the “chef” to make it to your taste. Papaya salad is another of our favourites!
I’m in heaven with any of these three salads!