What is the Difference between Laos & Thai Papaya Salad
The core difference between Thai green papaya salad and Laos green papaya salad is the liquid component of the recipe along with the topping.
Thai papaya salad, referred to as Som Tam, uses mainly fish sauce as the flavoring condiment and is generally topped with crushed roasted peanut.
Laos papaya salad, referred to as Tam Mak Hoong, uses fermented crab dip (nam pu) and padaek as flavoring condiments
The classic green papaya salad is loved throughout southeast Asia in various forms, but the two most popular are the Thai and Lao style papaya salad.
Padaek, sometimes known as padek, or Lao fish sauce or pla-ra in Thailand, is a traditional Lao condiment made from pickled or fermented fish that has been cured. It is thicker and more seasoned than the fish sauce more commonly seen throughout Thailand and Vietnam, often containing chunks of fish. The fermentation takes a long time, giving padaek an aroma similar to cheeses like Époisses.
Unlike other versions of fish sauce in Southeast Asia, padaek is made from freshwater fish, owing to the landlocked nature of the former kingdom of Lan Xang. Padaek is used in many dishes, most notably tam maak hoong, a spicy Lao papaya salad.
Laos Food Insight - Top 10 Dishes You Must Try
In Laos, food is the most important activity throughout the day. In the local language, it is quite common for people to greet each other by immediately asking, “Have you eaten food?” (“Kin khao laeo bor?”). Food is often the topic of many conversations, especially when eating and sharing dishes between friends and family. Additionally, Lao people take great passion in sharing traditional dishes with curious travelers.
Laotian dishes are very similar to Thailand and Vietnam in terms of flavor and ingredients, which often consist of fresh herb, spices, noodles, and rice. Khao niaw (sticky rice) is a staple food among the Laotians. Traditionally steamed in a cone-shaped bamboo basket, the rice is then placed in a covered basket, where it is eaten by hand alongside spicy soup, and meat-based dishes. Eating in Laos is also a communal activity, where dishes are shared by all at the table.
Laos Street Food - Top 10 Dishes You Must Try
Laos street food is vibrant, colorful, packed with herbs and chilies, and the combinations of ingredients are guaranteed to thrill your taste-buds.
From Luang Prabang to Vientiane, you will not believe how complex, yet refreshing at the same time, the scene of Laos street food can be.
From scrumptious sweets to deliciously charred meat-on-a-stick, each afternoon around dust multitudes of food carts converge to Vientiane’s kerbsides peddling cheap and flavorful eats to the hungry masses.
The street food scene of Luang Prabang will attract you at the first sight once you step into the colorful night market. The smell, the taste, or the various dishes on offers all combine to make it something you cannot deny.
Larb – Laos Meat Salad: the delicious traditional dish of Laos
Larb! Larb! Larb!
If you have already traveled to Laos, you will realize that it is one of the highlighted dishes of your trip.
Larb is basically a salad - made out of meat. (So, like, the best KIND of salad, right?). It’s a meat salad from Laos that has made its way into Thailand and other areas of Southeast Asia, as well as many countries in the world.
Like other dishes in Southeast Asian cooking, the dish combines savory flavors with fresh ones - fresh herbs like cilantro, scallions, and mint, and fresh lime juice. The addition of toasted ground rice also adds texture and nuttiness to the final dish.
All about Laos sticky rice & the best dipping sauce to pair with
Sticky rice is the staple food of any Laotian meal. It is called “khao niew” and made from glutinous rice. It contains a higher sugar level than normal rice, which gives it its stickiness.
Despite the name (glutinous rice), Laotian sticky rice is gluten free and therefore great for people with celiac. Sticky rice is steamed and traditionally served in small cute bamboo baskets in Laos called “lao aep khao”.
Sticky rice is a traditional Lao and Thai base dish that is served and paired another delicious main meal. You typically do not eat sticky rice on its own unless it’s been transformed into a dessert that is doused in coconut milk or sugar (if you’ve had Lao food, what I’m referring to here is purple rice).
Sticky rice is a transparent and opaque rice that requires soaking overnight for preparations. Once cooked, the rice “sticks” to each other, and you use your hands to eat the rice by forming delicious little balls of rice and putting it into your mouth!
Top 15 best traditional Laos dishes you need to try
Experiencing all that Lao cuisine has to offer is not an experience for the faint of heart. Laos’ famous fermented fish sauce, padek, has a distinct fragrance. Insects ranging from silkworms to ants and crickets can be found on many menus. Raw and cooked meats from all manner of animals are grilled and served on a stick or sautéed and served with rice.
Ah, while we are learning about Laos traditional dishes, why don't we take a break and take a bite of Laos food history and culture.
In case you want to move directly to the dishes that you prefer, just navigate via the below table of content.