Recipe corner: Khao poun

Khao poun - 196 Flavors

Ever wondered what Lao cuisine is like? It may not be as famous as the food from its neighbours Vietnam and Thailand, but Lao cuisine is seriously delicious. Try it for yourself with this fantastic recipe, kindly given to us by Mike from 196 Flavors!

196 Flavors is a culinary blog that follows Mike, Vera and Joanna as they discover unusual, unique and authentic recipes all over the world. See the full post here.

Khao poun

Khao poun (khao poon, khao pun or kapoon) is the best-known traditional soup in Laos, where it is particularly served at weddings. Rice vermicelli, vegetables, aromatic herbs are covered with a broth of coconut milk in which ground pork is traditionally cooked. Sometimes the pork is replaced with chicken or fish.


(for 4-6 people):

  • 115g (0.25 lb) rice vermicelli (thin rice noodles)
  • 450g (1 lb) chicken cutlets
  • 1 litre (4 cups) coconut milk
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 two-inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 5 lemon leaves
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Chilli powder (optional)
  • 2 carrots
  • 7 lettuce leaves
  • 2 large handfuls raw beansprouts
  • 1 banana flower
  • 1/2 bunch of mint
  • 1/2 bunch of coriander
  • 1/2 bunch of Thai basil
  • 2 limes
  • Salt


1. Cook the rice noodles in a large amount of boiling salted water for 5 minutes.

2. Drain, rinse in cold water and then split them equally (as many parts as number of guests) and put them aside.

3. Remove the coloured leaves from the banana flower and cut the white heart in thin strips.

4. Immediately immerse them in lemon water to prevent oxidation.

5. Peel and grate the carrots, wash and dry the beansprouts, cut lettuce in medium size strips.

6. Remove, wash and dry the mint leaves, coriander and Thai basil. Cut coarsely.

7. Heat the coconut milk.

8. Once hot, add the white parts of the lemongrass stalks cut into approximately one-inch pieces, the washed and dried lemon leaves, a few slices of fresh ginger, and the paprika.

9. Infuse over low heat for about 10 minutes.

10. Then add 700ml (3 cups) of water, coarsely chopped chicken cutlets, paprika, soy sauce and pepper.

11. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.

12. Remove the lemongrass and lemon leaves.

13. In individual bowls, divide all vegetables and herbs, add some rice noodles to the centre.

14. Using a slotted spoon, divide the chicken, then the hot coconut milk broth. Add a drizzle of lime juice to taste.

If you've been inspired by Mike's khao poun, you can learn more about Lao cuisine in the "Culinary Traditions" section of our website.

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