I like Asian food, but what I ate in Laos was superb. Laos cuisine is a nice combination of flavors. I recognize some of the flavors from Thailand, Cambodian, and French cuisine. Yes...Laos has one of the best baguettes I have tried outside France.
The ingredients of Laos cuisine are are sour, bitter, hot, spicy and sweet; therefore, the combination is very interesting to taste. I have tried and like very much dishes like kaipen, som pa (pickled fish), mok pa (fish steamed in banana leaf) and tam mak hoong. Unfortunately, I do not have all the ingredients to reproduce them at home.
However, I watched on tv a culinary program (Gourmet's Adventures with Ruth) that is very interesting, and in that episode they showed modern Laos cuisine with local ingredients. They recorded this show at the Tamarind Cooking School Laos. One dish that catches my attention was Stuffed Lemongrass with Meat. I found this dish to be very appealing, tasty and lovely to serve as appetizer. As I prefer shrimps better, I made this dish with shrimps filling. You can go with the original recipe. I am very happy with this new dish; finally, I can eat some Laotian food that I can cook at home. Here is my recipe adapted with shrimps:
200 grams of ground shrimps (I also did whole shrimps)
3 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 kaffir lime leaf finely sliced
5 green onions chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup of cilantro
1/4 cup of Thai basil
10 stalks of lemon grass
Oil fro frying
2 beaten eggs
With a mortar and pestle or a food processor, puree the garlic, lime leaf, scallions, cilantro, basil and salt. Put this paste into a bowl, and combine with ground shrimps.
Take a lemongrass stalk, and with a tip of a knife, make a cut that is about 5 cms long lengthwise. Continue cutting around the lemongrass stalk. This stalk is a little bit hard for cutting; therefore, I soak it for 45 minutes in water prior to the cutting. In order to have a nice basket, you have to start cutting 1.5 cms from the bottom. Do it again with the rest of the lemongrass.
Insert a spoon of the mixture into each lemongrass basket.
Dip each lemongrass in beaten egg, then flour, then repeat the beaten egg. Fry in hot oil for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Once each lemongrass is cooked, let it drain in a paper towel. Eat the cooked filling only, and not the lemongrass....Enjoy!!
1) I made it with whole and ground shrimps. It is better to use ground shrimps for the mixture.
2) I filled the lemongrass, and let the filling marinate in the lemongrass for 1 hour (to acquire the lemongrass taste)