1) Kiao Niaw
The average Laotian consumes around 345 lbs of kiao niaw, or white sticky rice, per year. Since sticky rice takes longer to digest than regular steamed rice, people can go longer without eating, which in an agrarian society like Laos, is very important. As is common in Laos, kiao niaw is eaten with the fingers, by first rolling it in the hand and then dipping it into other foods or sauces. Variations include brown sticky rice or sticky rice cooked inside a bamboo tube.
2) Mok Pa
A delicious Lao fish recipe originating from Luang Prabang, mok pa is an aromatic mixture of onions, garlic, and herbs enveloping slices of fresh fish filets wrapped and steamed in banana leaves. The national dish of Lao, it is available in restaurants and from street vendors. For those who dislike spicy food, this is a dish worth a try!
3) Green Papaya Salad
It is not uncommon for locals in Laos to consume fruits at various stages of ripeness, and from this tradition, green papaya salad was created. Visitors to Thailand may already be acquainted with the dish, as it is widely believed that it actually originated in Laos.
4) Lao Noodle Soup
This noodle dish is often compared to the Vietnamese dish of pho. Khao piak sen is a noodle soup served with either beef or chicken in a bowl with broth over flat rice noodles and garnished with fresh herbs.
5) Fresh Spring Rolls
Yall Dib are the Lao version of fresh spring rolls, similar to what can be found in Vietnam. Traditionally, the spring rolls are made by wrapping rice noodles, fresh herbs, and choice of meat in a thin rice paper. The most common dipping sauce used for the spring rolls is a chili and peanut mixture.
6) Sien Savanh
Sien Savanh are small bites of beef, marinated in garlic, pepper, palm sugar and soy or oyster sauce, and then sprinkled with sesame seeds. The marinated beef is left to dry in the sun’s rays to find the perfect glaze. To finalize the product, roadside street vendors will grill the beef jerky to add a smoky flavor, resulting in the Lao version of beef jerky.
7) Lao Lao
This potent rice whisky (roughly 40% proof) is a popular liquor often found in rural areas of Laos. The whiskey is made from distilling sticky rice and crumbles of yeast balls, which results in a clear, powerful liquid that tastes a little bit like day old bread. For the more adventurous tourists, there are exotic blends with lizards, snakes and scorpions available to test.
8) Ca Fay
Laos produces more than 20,000 tons of coffee per year, so it is no surprise that coffee is a popular drink in the region. Robusta is mainly used for most coffee drinks, and similar to Vietnamese style, is drank with sweet condensed milk.