Whenever I put on an apron I feel like a bit of a fraud. Lately, we’ve taken a lot of one day cooking courses including learning how to make Thai food, trying our hand at Vietnamese cuisine and thumbing our way through Khmer delicacies; however, my confidence in the kitchen is not exactly sky high. Regardless, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try making our favorite Lao dishes when we found out Tamarind (our favorite restaurant in Luang Prabang) offered one day classes.
We were thrilled when our Songthaew, carrying our entire cooking class, pulled up into a tranquil garden setting far away from the city center.
Compared to other cooking classes this was aimed at a more advanced level. Our Lao instructor would give a quick demonstration at the display table and then send us off to try our best at recreating the magic ourselves. Audrey certainly kept up to speed whereas I was constantly falling behind. At one point, when were were making a curry sauce for our steamed fish dish ‘Mok Pa’ I looked down and realized I only had only created half the sauce compared to Audrey. I couldn’t help but chuckle at my clear cut culinary shortcomings.
The difference between Thai and Lao food was hammered home emphatically by our Lao cooking instructor: “We don’t put much sugar in Lao cooking like Thai food. You taste Thai food and it tastes milky and creamy and sweet because they add lots of coconut milk and lots of sugar. That is why the food tastes like that. Lao food is very different tasting like lots of herbs and lots of texture. This is Laos food. This does not mean Thai food is not tasty. Thai food is very tasty but our food tastes different.”
Overall, our experience at Tamarind cooking school was pleasant; however, compared to other cooking schools I felt it lacked a bit in terms of personal instruction and one on one help. For culinary wizards, this wouldn’t be problematic, but for me it manifested in more than a few failed dishes
Here we are visiting a market again and that can only mean one thing – we are taking a cooking course yet again. Today we are going to be learning how to make Lao food and our first stop is Phou Si market. It is the biggest market in Luang Prabang and apparently it opens up at four in the morning.
For our cooking class today it’s an awesome surprise – we’ve got this lush garden setting. It feels like we’re just walking into someones backyard.
In Laos his wife and daughter cook for the family not the husband and son. This is culture.
We don’t put much sugar in Lao cooking like Thai food. You taste Thai food and it tastes milky and creamy and sweet because they add lots of coconut milk and lots of sugar. That is why the food tastes like that. Lao food is very different tasting like lots of herbs and lots of texture. This is Laos food. This does not mean Thai food is not tasty. Thai food is very tasty but our food tastes different.
I’m pounding peppers, onions and that is it.
Now time to try your tomato dip. I made mine really spicy accidentally because I thought we were cooking this. I’m making a little ball with the sticky rice. Voila! I’ll dip it in here. How is it? It has a real kick to it but it is so good. It has lemon juice, hot peppers, garlic. I like it.
I’d like to point out that Sam and I are making the exact same dish. This is his sauce. This is mine. What are you missing? Just about everything.
We’re making the Mok Pa fish and you are going to show us how to wrap it.
What a work of art Audrey. Amazing! Oh, be quiet. It is going to taste amazing.
We’re cooking our buffalo meat right now.
Here we have our buffalo salad. We stir-fried some buffalo meat and we also added bean sprouts,banana flowers, string beans, hot chilies and mint leaves. We’re going to be rolling this up in lettuce leaves. It’s kind of like a little fresh roll.
Have you tried Lao cuisine before? Would you consider taking a cooking course?