Food From Northern Laos: The Boat Landing Cookbook

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Galangal Press

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To be published 1 September, 2010. Includes over 400 color photographs."An encyclopaedic resource for lovers of Lao food everywhere!" The little known cultures and cuisine of Northern Laos (Lao PDR) are showcased in the recipes of its local ethnic groups and Luang Namtha Province's premiere ecotourism lodge. Eighty-eight dishes from Lao, Khmu, Tai Dam, Tai Yuan and Akha are presented in clear, simple recipes. The stunning photography of life and food preparation in village homes and at The Boat Landing Guest House and Restaurant ties the dishes to their indigenous setting.This unique cookbook includes:80+ recipes from Laos, a 28-page photo-illustrated glossary of Lao ingredients with suggestions for their Western substitutes, a detailed description of Lao preparation and cooking techniques, information about traditional Lao cooking equipment and substitutes, a bibliography, including weblinks, and a comprehensive index in English, Lao transcription and Lao script.


Dorothy Culloty
Galangal Press
Galangal Press
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Galangal Press
Galangal Press
Food From Northern Laos: The Boat Landing Cookbook
Comprehensive index in English, Lao transcription and Lao script
Kees Sprengers

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Pros: Detailed introduction to a new part of the world
Cons: Not all ingredients are readily available.
Reviewed by Wayne Crich

Sometimes the closest thing to travel we can experience is food. There is nothing quite like tasting a new cuisine, that first moment of surprise and hopefully of delight as we sample for the first time a raft of new and different flavour combinations. Australians love to travel and I as I asked around none of my friends had actually been to Northern Laos close to the Chinese and Burmese borders. So this book was really going to show me something new.

Culloty has taken the time to not only research the regions food but to delve into the ingredients and explain them in detail. The book begins by explaining the diverse ethic cultures that form up this part of the world and the copious illustrations help to create the feeling that the reader is there. When you add to this photos and descriptions of the unique local ingredients we can start to get a sense of how different and new this cuisine is.

At this point I was starting to think I would be unable to sauce many of the ingredients, due to there exotic and unusual nature. Culloty has thought this through and has painstakingly listed with each recipe alternate (more readily available) substitutions for those had to find items. Of the 5 dishes I cooked I was easily able to sauce the ingredients from the local Vietnamese supermarket.

The food itself is fresh and vibrant. Did I say FRESH, well I will say it again. I cooked a fish curry which I thought would taste something like a Vietnamese or Thai dish, it did not. It had a gentleness and subtlety of flavour that was all its own.  Smoked Fish Boiled Jeow, was real delight, fresh and spicy but subtle with its heat. What did surprise me is the leftovers in the fridge, which I wanted to have for lunch, were so disappointing. The subtle and delicate flavours went and I was reminded of the writers warning FRESH is best with Laotian food.

The food itself is a blending of Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese influences but to only see it as a blend is to miss the originality and uniqueness of the food.  The Spicy Pork salad could easily have been Chinese and I have no doubts it started there, but the flavours are so different to the Chinese equivalent that you could not mistake the two.  There is a range of dishes here ranging from meat and fish to fried and noodle based. If you like South East Asian food then this book will give you a new take on that part of the world.

My favourite food is soup; I love it in all its varieties. This fish soup is lovely, light yet spicy and full of delicate flavours.
[h2]Recipe: Sour Fish Soup[/h2]
  1. Bring 2 cups of Water to the boil
  2. Add 1 cup of loosely packed sour wind leaf (or tamarind leaves or tamarind paste or kaffir lime leaves and 1 tabs vinegar)
  3. Add 1tsp salt, I diced chilli, and 1 bruised lemon grass stalk.
  4. Add 1 cup of chopped fish pieces
  5. Finish with diced spring onion, 1 stem of basil, 1 tsp. fish sauce
  6. Serve
This made a delightful light lunch.

This book is certainly going into my bookshelf; it offers a fresh authentic look into a very different Asian cuisine.


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