Introduction to Laos’ Staple Food
Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, is known for its unique cuisine that is bursting with bold flavors and aromatic herbs. The country’s cuisine is heavily influenced by its neighboring countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, and China. However, Lao cuisine has its distinct taste and cooking techniques that make it stand out from others. The staple food of Laos is sticky rice, which is also known as glutinous rice or khao niao. It is the cornerstone of Lao cuisine and is eaten with most meals.
Sticky Rice: The Heart of Lao Cuisine
Sticky rice is a type of rice that has a high level of amylopectin, a sticky starch that makes it clump together when cooked. It is soaked in water for several hours before cooking to remove the excess starch, and then steamed in bamboo baskets over boiling water until it becomes soft and sticky. Sticky rice is served in small baskets called tip khao and is eaten by rolling it into small balls with your fingers and dipping it into various sauces.
Sticky rice is not just a staple food in Laos; it is also an essential part of the country’s cultural identity. It is often served at traditional Lao ceremonies and is used as an offering to the Buddhist monks during alms-giving ceremonies. Sticky rice is also a symbol of hospitality and generosity in Lao culture, and it is common to be offered sticky rice when visiting someone’s home.
Other Important Foods in Lao Cuisine
While sticky rice is the most important food in Lao cuisine, there are many other dishes that are equally delicious and significant. Lao cuisine is all about the balance of flavors, and dishes are usually served with a mix of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy flavors. Some of the popular Lao dishes include laap, a spicy minced meat salad, som tam, a green papaya salad, and tam mak hoong, a spicy salad made with shredded green papaya.
Lao cuisine is also known for its soups, such as the famous kao soi, a coconut curry noodle soup, and the sour and spicy tom yum soup. Lao cuisine is rich in herbs and spices, including lemongrass, galangal, coriander, and chili, which gives its dishes a distinctive and aromatic flavor. Overall, Lao cuisine is a must-try for anyone who loves bold and flavorful foods.