Laos Cuisine

NAMGNUM DAMP FISH FOOD
"Fish salad, Fish soup and steamed fish
If these above food are not delicious, it must be depended on
the skill of the cooks or the consumerrs don't know how to eat !"

After the Namgnum damp was newly constructed, Vientiane people said that the fish from Namgnum are not so delicious, (Lao people prefer to eat fish, so they know well that where the fish caught from, are delicious). But at the present time, all accept that namgnum fish are delicious not less than the other sources. Fish from Namgnum are daily sent to sell in Vientiane. The fishmen catch them and sell to the merchants in the morning. The fish catching area is far from the port of Namgnum for some kilometers. The merchants use the ice to keep the fish before going to the markets. It takes 2-3 hours to take them to Namgnum port, then sent them to the Vientiane markets by containers. The fish reach Vientiane markets in the afternoon and it is not so fresh,  and delicious. To have the fresh ones, people should go to Namgnum in the holidays. there are many tourists and sometimes the parking area is full.

To touch the almosphere of the air in the lake called Geneva sea to Asian, to see the lives of the fishermen. After we departed from Vangvieng, we spent a night in Namgnum guesthouse. Previously, there were not available guest house, but today there are enough rooms for accommadations. In that evening, we entered to one of the restaurant located on the shore, in fact there are many restaurants and some are on the floating boats. Before there were one big boat restuarant but now it is out of business since the boat is very old.

We did not order the food in advance, so the beautiful waitress showed us the menu. Siri ordered Giant fish salad, while P.Phouangsaba ordered grilled fish and Thanong sack Vongsackda ordered the cat fish soup and roated fish and tomatoes sauce. Seeing many types of vegetables, species mixing with fish salad made the saliva dropping, eating the sticky rice and Lao beers. All said it was so delicious. Fish meat made us to be healtheir, pleasent and good hearts. The beautiful waitresses are waiting to serve the hard drinks. Siri Sayaseng told us that there are many kind of Lao food, but there is no need to order to many types at the same time. If we order so, we do not know which type is the best fish food.

Along the way back to the guesthouse, we bought some of banana, each bunch costed 5,000 to 7,000 kips. We spent the night by listening to the waves and seeing the light of the stars brithtening on the surface of the river and the light of the people to collect the fish far away from the small islands. These made us to think about the path of lives and sleep under the nature. This is the special happy life that it can not be arranged easily. Earlier, the next morning we toured by boat to admire the water nature and to see the fishmen catching fish. Along the river we also see the birds flying over the sky. They also hunt for fish like the fish men.


DRINKING LAO HAI
Reception ceremony organized at the house of the chief of the village. It is the two floors and surrounded with the fruits trees. Young and old women dresswd in green, red costumes traditionally identifying the origin of Thai Theng or Thai Daeng, but their men only their native tongues can be proved as their origin. The mats, the pot of the herbs boiled water and plates of bunches of banana are placed. The jars of alcohol placed in the corner of the house. Nong-Or is a village of Thai Theng or Thai Daeng, original from Houaphan Thang Hoa and thang Hok, Theng district and Thanh Hoa province in the north of Vietnam (Dien Bien Fu, Thanh Hoa) in the present time.

Mr. Mai Hom, chief of Nong-Or village told us that his villagers moved in here for 200 years ago. This village comprised 95 families, devised into two groups : one for the north and other for the south. Both are located along the road No.8A and 17 km. east of Lak Xao, the Khamkeut administration office.

THAI DAENG AND LAO HAI
Lao Hai (the jars of alcohol) are not only used as the custom or tradition but they use it for worship the ghost, families rites or traditional festival. Lao Hai and boiled chicken are the main components for any ceremonies. Therefore Thai Daeng had to prepare alcohol for the whole year. I am a writer whose blood mixed with alcohol, got the better chance to enjoy the drink wit- h Thai Deang girls. To drink they used the horn of the buffalo to measure how much water sho- uld be used. It is called Sanai. How much one can drink?The more you drink, the more fun you will see. The alcohol kept in the jar is very tasteful and nice smell. Some drinkers prefer the atmosphere around the jar of alcohol than its taste.

Miss Chai and Miss Hang, the great drinkers, they drink without speaking and drink until their cheeks become red.

Oh Ho! Add more water it's very tasteful. Both guests and hosts made turns to drink. The drinker took the bamboo pipe, stuck it to the bottom of the jar to find the tastiest and sweetest portion of the jar while the eyes are searching over the red cheeks. Thai Daeng alcohol are tasty to the tongue as the explanation of the chief of the village mentioned that Bane Nong-Or has 95 families and all families produced the jars alcohol. To certify his propaganda words, he also told us on how to make alcohol without knowing that I am going to sale his method for alcohol making or to produce it for my own consumption.


HOW TO MAKE THE ALCOHOL POWDER

- Soak rice for one night
- Clean, mill, then screen the soaked rice as the powder
- Mix the powder with Kha water (To make Kha water, first cut Kha into small pieces, mill amd take only its water.
- Make the lumps.
- Dry the lumps in Kadong the rice winnovining basket covered them by the brans.
- Use the hey to cover the kadong and keep it in the ceiling of the kitchen to dry with the fire smoke for 5 to 7 days.
- After it become dry, take the bran and the hey out and keep in the ceiling until we want to used it.


HOW TO MAKE THE ALCOHOL

- Put the bran into the pot as full pot and take the bran out and clean
- Soak rice for 1 night then wash
- Mix soaked rice and the bran in Kadong, a bamboo plate.
- Steam them.
- Take them out and let them cold.
- Take the alcohol powder from the ceiling and mill and mix rice with bran and place to the wind to make it cold.
- Cut the banana leaves to cover Kadong, rice, bran, alcohol powder for 1 night.
- Then the powder will be hot, the alcohol become as alcohol and take the banana leaves out to let it cold.
- Put them into the jar, place the banana leaves as the first layer and bran as the second as ashes as the third.
- Keep the small jar for 1 to 3 nights.
- Keep the big jar for 10 to 15 nights before drinking.

ATTENTION :
The longer times we keep it, the better taste will be. The one who never drinks the jar alcohol conserved for one year will be the person who never understand about its real taste. The one who do not know its real taste of alcohol will be the person who do not know the meaning of the smile of Thai Daeng girls who are sitting on knees and drinking with you, It is an common thing.


STICK RICE AND PADECK
Living in houses on stilts, playing the Khene and eat sticky rice tith Padeck are the main characteristics of Lao People. The World offers a wide variety of cuisines. When preparing a meal, one does not only want to cease hunger but also seeks good taste at low cost. The preparation of a meal is vary important and so are the ingredients. Sticky rice and Pradeck have been rooted in Lao traditional cuisine since the early periods.

Souligna Vongsa who united the LaneXang Kingdom from 1673 to 1694 made the distinction between the Lao and Vietnamese people as such. The people living in house on stilts and who eat sticky rice and Pradeck are Lao. those living in houses built on the ground who use chop sticks and wear large pants are the Vietnamese. Most Lao eat sticky rice. After being steamed, the rice is kept in a basket called Tipkao or Kongkao in various areas. This basket is hand woven bamboo strips and comes in different colors, sizes and shapes.

Sticky rice can be prepared in different ways, such as Kaomao kaohang, Kaonung and Bamboo steamed. Kaobeua is a base to prepare bamboo shoots soup, Kaokua is used to add flavour to Lab or Koy, the Lao traditional meat salad. These various ways of using sticky rice adds flavour and aroma to dishes and one could not obtain same results by substituting with other type of rice or wheat. Another kind of sticky rice is Kaokam and it is distinctive by its black color. Kaomao and Kaohang, described above, have a sweeter flavour and are used during Buddhist ceremonies and durind Buddhist lent. During the harvesting period, we have Kaomai, Paman, which are a newly harvested rice that is eaten with fatty fish.

Padeck is a distinctive and unique Lao traditional food. Its quality will reflect the talent of the cook or the housewife. It is a mixture of fish and salt that is marinated and preserved in a jar for a minimum of a year, up tp 3 years. Indeed, the older it is conserved the stronger the taste. And. one could not tell its existence in a dish, it will just add more flavor and aroma to most dishes. Have sticky rice with a dish with good padeck makes a noted difference in taste!

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