It is no secret that I love food. A lot. For me, it’s one of the big reasons I love to travel in Asia; the food is so delicious, fresh and filled with different flavours. It also helps that I could never get bored of eating rice or noodles. With Christmas coming up fast, I thought this would be a great time to share with you some super easy recipes for Laos dips that you can use whilst entertaining this season. They’re really easy, quick and taste amazing. In Laos they’re served with sticky rice, but you can serve it with crackers, pita bread or veg sticks. So, get into the kitchen and give these Jeow’s a try.
Jeow Mak Keua (aubergine dip)
You will need:
1 chilli (or to taste)
1/2 table spoon of salt
2 cloves of garlic (whole)
1/2 cup of chopped coriander
The green part of 1 spring onion
A dash of fish sauce (optional)
– Prick the aubergine and chilli with a folk to let out any extra moisture whilst cooking.
– In Laos, this next step is done over an open flame. Instead, use either a hot frying pan or a grill. Add the aubergine, chilli and garlic, turning until the skin of the aubergine is blackened. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Once cool, peal the aubergine.
– Pound the chilli, garlic and salt together in a mortar and pestle.
– Add the aubergine and coriander, pound into a soft paste.
– Add fish sauce and spring onion to your liking.
See, super easy! Using the same method, you can also make Jeow Mak Len (Laos Tomato Salsa). Simply swap the aubergine for some cherry tomatoes and and a squeeze of lemon juice, then follow the instructions the same. Both of these dips are super versatile; have a play with the amount of chilli or garlic you add to get it just how you like it.
For a deliciously nutty dipping sauce, try Jeow Som:
2-3 salted peanuts
1 clove of garlic (whole)
1 stalk of lemon grass (thinly sliced)
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp water
A dash of fish sauce (optional)
– In a mortar and pestle, pound the peanuts, chilli, garlic, lemon grass, sugar and salt into a rough paste.
– Add the lemon juice and water, stir gently to combine.
The Laos style of eating is very sociable. These Laos dips, along with sticky rice, cooked meats and cooked vegetables would be served in the middle of the table for everyone to share. Using hands, people tuck in and enjoy the meal together. I found eating with my hands in a communal bowl pretty hard at first – I didn’t know if everyone had washed their hands – but it’s surprisingly easy to get comfortable with, and to even enjoy it.
If you want to get authentic and give these dips a try with sticky rice and eating with your fingers, remember these basic rules:
– Knead a bite-size piece of rice in your hand until it sticks together.
– Dip the rice ball into the sauce, using your thumb to press more to the rice if you’d like.
– Never leave rice behind in the dip: you wouldn’t want anyone leaving their rice behind either.
– When dipping, keep your pinky out of the way and only use your ring finger if you need to.
– Never double dip, and never ever lick your fingers!
There you have it – three easy to make Laos dips. They are so simple and taste so good you can serve them at a party with whatever dips you like. Your guests will never believe how easy they were to make.