In Lao cuisine, the local people like fiery salads, sticky rice or noodle with spicy dips, grilled meats, fish and poultry. Most local dishes consist of many fresh vegetables and herbs, which are eaten with rice or noodle or fish, and to a lesser degree, chicken and pork or beef, the more expensive ingredient than other meats. Also like some other Asian countries, the Laotian consumes meats from wild animals such as deer, squirrels, monkeys, rats, birds and so on. And although their food are similar to Vietnamese or Thai ones, the Laotian cuisine expresses some typical difference because the Lao prefer balance among sweet, sour, cooked, fresh, mild, bitter, salty and spicy, not as spicy as Thai food. Dishes are often flavored with sauces, pastes and fermented fish concoctions such as fermented fish sauce, paa daek sauce, sesame paste and coconut sauce. The freshness of the ingredients also plays a key role on Lao cuisine because they believe it makes their food more delicious. Due to of landlocked characteristic, seafood dishes are not popular in Laos, normally served in expensive hotels and restaurants. Moreover, thanks to French cuisine’s influence, crème caramel, baguettes, croissant also can be found in Lao food. They attached special importance to healthy factor, so food’s flavor is fresh and the dishes are low fat.

 Below is 10 best Laotian foods, which tourists should try one time:

  1. Kaipen (Fried Seaweed)

Kaipen is a famous Laotian snack, made with freshwater green algae harvested from the Mekong in northern Laos. After a rinse, the algae is pressed into paper-thin sheets and marinated with garlic and sesame seeds, then it is left to dry in the sun.

To enjoy kaipen, the sheets will be fried until crispy and eaten with a dipping sauce, including roasted chili and thin pieces of buffalo skin.

  1. Laotian Sticky rice (Khao Niaw)

Like other Asian countries, rice is basic ingredient in almost Laotian food and sticky rice is a staple throughout the country. Khao niew is made from glutinous rice, which is more delicate and delicious than other kinds of rice. In Laos, it is traditionally steamed in a cone-shaped bamboo basket, and placed in a covered basket where it is eaten with many other dishes. In Laos, sticky rice is available to eat at any time of day.

  1. Laotian Minced meat salad (Larb)

Larb is the national dish of Laos, a basically salad made out of minced meats such as chicken, beef, duck, fish or pork. Like other dishes in Southeast Asia, the dish combines savory flavors with fresh herbs like cilantro, scallion, mint and fresh lime juice. Finally, toasted ground rice and fermented fish sauce or a few chili peppers are added to the final dish. Larb is normally eaten with sticky rice.

  1. Khao Jee (Baguette)

Similar to the Vietnamese Banh Mi, Khao Jee is a sandwich with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, carrot, onion, moo yor (pork lunchmeat), chopped ham, and topped with pâté or chilli sauce.

It is famous street food in Laos with reasonable rate. Khao Jee is often enjoyed for breakfast, with a cup of coffee.

  1. Steamed fish (Mok Pa)

Mok pa is a kind of traditional Laotian food. After being cleaned, freshwater fish is marinated with lemongrass, kaffir leaves, green onions, fish sauce, green chili, shrimp paste and fresh dill. Then all of them is wrapped inside banana leaves and tied with bamboo string, then steamed to get mild flavor.

  1. Sien Savanh (Lao Beef Jerky)

Sien Savanh is a snack, which local people often eat with Beer Lao. Similar to beef jerky, its made using beef flank steak or water buffalo meat, then seasoned with garlic, fish sauce, ginger, sesame seed, sugar, salt and black paper.

The local leaves the strips in the sun until it is dried. When enjoying, they will grill it over a charcoal stove for a smoky flavor, eating it with sticky rice or a tomato chili dip.

  1. Green Papaya Salad (Tam Mak Hoong)

The green papaya salad is a very popular dish in Southeast Asia and one of the signature dishes of Laos, made from unripe papaya. Lao green papaya salad is originated from Thailand, similar to Thailand’s Som Tam dish but still have a little difference. Tam Mak Hoong excludes peanuts and is usually made with fermented fish sauce. Other ingredients include palm sugar, lime, garlic, tomatoes, dried shrimp, chilis, and raw eggplant. All of these ingredients are pounded together in a traditional mortar and pestle.

  1. Lao Stew (Lam)

Lam is a mildly spicy and thick Lao stew, which has origin from Luang Prabang. It contains beans, eggplant, lemongrass, basil, chilies, wood ear mushrooms, cilantro, and green onion. But the special ingredient making it unique is mai sa kaan, a locally grown vine, that is only for chewing, then spiting it out. Besides, Lam also consists of dried buffalo meat, beef or chicken meat.

  1. Lao Sausages (Sai Uah, Sai Gok)

Sai Uah, Sai Gok is Lao-style sausages, a herb-infused meat. These pork sausages are mixed with lemongrass, galangal, kaffir leaves, shallots, cilantro, chili and fish sauce. Besides, there are some other variant of this sausage in Laos such as soured Lao sausage. The local will put sticky rice inside sausage and let them outside for a couple of days, before it becomes sour. Sausage is paired with sticky rice, and also essential to many dishes too. It is easy for tourists to find it at local markets and roadside streets in Laos.

  1. Wet Noodles (Khao Piak Sen)

Khao Piak Sen is a noodle soup, similar to Udon, but it is made with rice, instead of wheat. It is one of the most popular food in Laos, made with pork or chicken, lemongrass, galangal, shallots, garlic, chopped coriander leaves, bean sprouts, and served with freshly sliced limes. The most crucial factor is the broth, which should be slowly cooked with bones for the best flavor.