About Lao Food

What is Lao Food….

Tamarind’s philosophy is to use only the freshest, local ingredients and to provide a place where visitors can sample and learn about the special flavours and foods that comprise Lao cuisine. Started by Joy, a Lao national and his Australian partner, Caroline, it is a family business that aims to give back to the community by supporting local producers and suppliers.
 

What Makes Lao Cuisine Different?

If you are a first-time visitor to South-East Asia (or even if you have spent time here) you may not have discovered the distinguishing features of Lao cuisine. That’s because many Lao flavours and foods are not at all well known.

 

Landlocked Laos, with no trading port to the outside world and until recently, with a relatively small emigrant population, hasn’t spread its culture globally like Thailand and Vietnam, and the nature of the food and eating style has remained undiscovered. The balance of flavours in dishes is different from that of the West and even neighbouring Thailand, and to some visitors it appears strange and difficult to investigate. As a result, many people never get the opportunity to experience this intriguing cuisine.

 

Historically, Lao food has often been regarded as essentially the same as Thai food. Some guidebooks and internet sites still describe it this way. One reason for this misconception is the popularity and spread of Isaan cuisine in Thailand. This region of north-east Thailand was once Lao territory, and its food has retained many characteristics and dishes of Lao cuisine, for instance grilled chicken, papaya salad, sticky rice.

 

Some establishments offer menus that continue the confusion and misinformation. Dishes such as ‘Lao Green Curry’, ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’ and ‘Fried Rice’ are presented under the heading of ‘Lao Food’, which they are not.

 

And there’s a practical reason Lao cuisine differs from Thai: sticky rice! It’s the staple here and is eaten with the fingers – most traditional Lao dishes were designed to accompany it. To keep fingers clean, and rice from dropping into communal food, dishes do not have a liquid consistency. Much Thai food is more soup-like, often incorporating coconut milk, or even stir fried in oil, so steamed rice is a more suitable accompaniment.

 

So what do Lao people like to eat?

If you are a first-time visitor to South-East Asia (or even if you have spent time here) you may not have discovered the distinguishing features of Lao cuisine. That’s because many Lao flavours and foods are not at all well known.

 

Landlocked Laos, with no trading port to the outside world and until recently, with a relatively small emigrant population, hasn’t spread its culture globally like Thailand and Vietnam, and the nature of the food and eating style has remained undiscovered. The balance of flavours in dishes is different from that of the West and even neighbouring Thailand, and to some visitors it appears strange and difficult to investigate. As a result, many people never get the opportunity to experience this intriguing cuisine.

 

Historically, Lao food has often been regarded as essentially the same as Thai food. Some guidebooks and internet sites still describe it this way. One reason for this misconception is the popularity and spread of Isaan cuisine in Thailand. This region of north-east Thailand was once Lao territory, and its food has retained many characteristics and dishes of Lao cuisine, for instance grilled chicken, papaya salad, sticky rice.

 

Some establishments offer menus that continue the confusion and misinformation. Dishes such as ‘Lao Green Curry’, ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’ and ‘Fried Rice’ are presented under the heading of ‘Lao Food’, which they are not.

 

And there’s a practical reason Lao cuisine differs from Thai: sticky rice! It’s the staple here and is eaten with the fingers – most traditional Lao dishes were designed to accompany it. To keep fingers clean, and rice from dropping into communal food, dishes do not have a liquid consistency. Much Thai food is more soup-like, often incorporating coconut milk, or even stir fried in oil, so steamed rice is a more suitable accompaniment.

 

 

What is “authentic” Lao cuisine?

If you are a first-time visitor to South-East Asia (or even if you have spent time here) you may not have discovered the distinguishing features of Lao cuisine. That’s because many Lao flavours and foods are not at all well known.

 

Landlocked Laos, with no trading port to the outside world and until recently, with a relatively small emigrant population, hasn’t spread its culture globally like Thailand and Vietnam, and the nature of the food and eating style has remained undiscovered. The balance of flavours in dishes is different from that of the West and even neighbouring Thailand, and to some visitors it appears strange and difficult to investigate. As a result, many people never get the opportunity to experience this intriguing cuisine.

 

Historically, Lao food has often been regarded as essentially the same as Thai food. Some guidebooks and internet sites still describe it this way. One reason for this misconception is the popularity and spread of Isaan cuisine in Thailand. This region of north-east Thailand was once Lao territory, and its food has retained many characteristics and dishes of Lao cuisine, for instance grilled chicken, papaya salad, sticky rice.

 

Some establishments offer menus that continue the confusion and misinformation. Dishes such as ‘Lao Green Curry’, ‘Sweet and Sour Chicken’ and ‘Fried Rice’ are presented under the heading of ‘Lao Food’, which they are not.

And there’s a practical reason Lao cuisine differs from Thai: sticky rice! It’s the staple here and is eaten with the fingers – most traditional Lao dishes were designed to accompany it. To keep fingers clean, and rice from dropping into communal food, dishes do not have a liquid consistency. Much Thai food is more soup-like, often incorporating coconut milk, or even stir fried in oil, so steamed rice is a more suitable accompaniment.