Thursday, November 10, 2011

52 Meals, 52 Countries, 52 Weeks - Laos

My wee girl picked Laos for our newest "trip around the world"! I can't tell you how happy I was with that because it means she truly is a girl after my own heart. I have loved Laos for ... well, decades. I've had this infatuation with the beautiful little country, and my dream is to go on The Gibbon Experience in Northern Laos. Recently a good friend of mine went to live there (as well as Thailand) for a few months. To say I was jealous would be an understatement. Green with envy just doesn't cut it. I lived for the emails I would get about her adventures. I would drink in every single word she wrote as if I was lucky enough to experience it myself. I will go there some day, that much I know. I am positive of it. Perhaps after a trip to Europe we might take a trip to Asia? Oh yes, just maybe.

Now, having said that about that lovely, beautiful little country... this was by far the most difficult week to find vegetarian food! Not only did it have to be vegetarian, but it also had to be ingredients I could find. Do you think I could find fresh lemongrass or banana leaves? Um, that would be a big fat no! I'd love to revisit Laos again after visiting a bigger city to get ingredients. Oh well, at least what we did have we enjoyed. The kids had second helpings and there really wasn't much left over, so that is a good sign. I couldn't find much about dinner etiquette either and what I did find was contradictory, so I think we failed on that front.

For dinner I made a cold green bean salad called Akha Beans, some marinated tofu, some sticky rice (Kao Niao) (done in a rice cooker like this... I need a steamer basket now cause the kids loved the rice!) and some dipping sauce for the rice (which is the same as the marinade I used for the tofu). I loved the tofu and the marinade for the rice. LOVED. It was an interesting train of tastes. First sweet, then salty and finally spicy. Delicious!

Akha Beans

1 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into smaller pieces
1 head of garlic, with the top cut off
2 inch piece of ginger root, peeled
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped

Wrap the garlic and ginger in foil and roast them in the oven for about 30 minutes at 350.

Steam the green beans in some water for a few minutes. Drain, rinse and place in a bowl.

When the garlic and ginger are ready and have cooled enough that you can handle them, remove the garlic cloves from the peel and place them, along with the ginger and salt into a mortar and pestle and grind until it becomes uniform.

Add the mixture to the beans and mix well. Add the soy sauce, mint leaves, cilantro and green onions and toss well.


Lao Tofu Marinade and Dipping Sauce
(you would need to make this recipe twice if you wanted both)

2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic chili sauce
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
pinch of star anise

Mix together. Use immediately for a dipping sauce, or marinate some dry fried tofu in it for the day. Reheat the tofu by dry-frying it for a bit on the stove.

Check it out! Our map is looking better week by week.

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