Sen cooked up a very nice Larb Gai a few days ago. Sometimes we like to mince the Chicken first, by knife, not machine, other times we like to simply grill a Chicken Breast and thinly slice it. We love all Larbs, and the combination of herbs and spices make it a very satisfying, and simple dish. We always use lime juice instead of lemon, lime adds an accent to the finished dish that lemon can sometimes lack.
The Larb is served on Crispy Yuca which has been seasoned with Sugar & Salt.
King Prawns make a welcome addition to any “Yum” . We have been using Japanese Somen Noodles, which are great when served cold. They are easy to cook, and when plunged in to ice cold water they taste refreshing.
Talking about King Prawns, one of our all time favourites is “Goong Che Nam Pla”.
In the Laocook Kitchen this dish has been reworked many times in one way or another, but appearance may change, but the ingredients remain the same.
Fresh Prawns are essential for this dish, and being near the coast, we have an abundant supply. If Raw Prawns are not to your taste, you can blanch them (ever so briefly) before hand. However, the succulent texture will be lost.
Above is a version of the traditional recipe, where the fresh prawns have been cleaned and slit open. We found that presenting this dish in its authentic style raised a few eyebrows amongst our diners. Perhaps the thought of eating raw prawns put some people off.
We pondered over this for a while, because once tasted, the dish really speaks for itself.
Carpaccios is well accepted in the west and involve very thin slices of raw beef or fish, drizzled with Olive Oil, Lemon and other combinations.
I wanted people to taste our “Goong Che Nam Pla”, to appreciate its fine texture and flavours, so I decided to present the King Prawns as a “Carpaccio”. The idea worked and Láminas de Langostinos al “Nam Pla” (Nam Pla King Prawn “Sheets”) is now one of our “best sellers”.
Garlic, which is an essential ingredient, can sometimes be too over powering. In the original dish, it is either thinly sliced or chopped and added “raw” to the prawns. I decided to make the Nam Pla sauce, and infuse it with bruised garlic for about 20 minutes, just to get the “hint” of the bulb. A Carpaccio is not the same without some added Oil, and through my testing phases, we found that Olive Oil was too over powering, hence we ended up using Coriander, Roasted Shallot and Grapeseed Oil instead.
Paper thin slices of fresh King Prawns are briefly Marinated “a la Minute” with the Nam Pla sauce before the oil mixture is added. The Nam Pla sauce in effect “cooks” the raw slices and also renders the meat tender and releases an inherent sweetness, it is best “marinated” for only a few minutes before serving.
An aromatic body and depth is added with the Roasted Shallots, that have been slow cooked to relieve them of their pungent sharpness. What is left is a dish with complex flavours of the sea that are sweet, soft and earthly all at the same time.
We have worked hard on this dish, it has taken 10 months in its evolution and when we finally get down to measuring the ingredients (yes, we work on taste, in a Vote system, we make it, 4 of us try it and if all agree, it is good, if even one of us disagrees, we remake it until we get it right and all of us agree) we will post it in the Recipes Section. Why?, because Lao Food & Cuisine is all about SHARING….