Sometimes my Fantasy restaurant is Lao. Chicago is home to quite a few Lao people, but no Lao restaurants. The closest we get are some Issan dishes in some of our Thai restaurants. So, we have to cook it ourselves – and fortunately we can. In the late 70’s we sponsored a family of Lao refugees, and I learned Lao cooking from them. Naturally, there were some limitations to how authentically they could reproduce their traditional dishes – many herbs and meats routinely used were not available in this country (no dried buffalo skin, for instance). So the Lao food I learned to cook is a bit different than it would be in Laos – it’s the cooking of the Lao diaspora, I guess you could say.
Here’s a recipe for my favorite Lao soup:
These crispy Spring Rolls go nicely with Laab Kai or Kaopuhn:
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