Thursday, 26th May 2016
Eat your way through Luang Prabang?s night market
Luang Prabang in Laos is a fantastic destination, with plenty of attractions to keep you interested all day. When the sun has set, however, there is one place that you should head and that’s the city’s famed night market. Between 5pm and 9.30pm, the centre of town becomes a veritable feast of street food, so be sure to arrive hungry.
With so many mouth-watering dishes on offer, it can be difficult to know where to start, so here are some of the highlights to look out for.
Barbecued meat and fish
Succulent chunks of meat or whole fish that have been marinated and threaded onto sticks make for a great snack. You will see piles of them stacked up waiting for customers at the many stalls lining the market route. Take your pick and watch as the meat or fish is thrown onto the hot embers and cooked in front of you. Juicy and imbued with the smoky taste from the fire, such skewers are a great way to sate your appetite.
When it comes to noodle soup in Laos, it’s as if you’re talking about an entire subgroup of the cuisine, as the chances are you’ll not have two the same or even vaguely similar during your visit. The variety of noodles on offer is remarkable and you can pick from myriad garnishes at the food stalls to make a bespoke soup that is tailored perfectly to your tastes, so tuck in.
One of the most ubiquitous signs of the French colonial power having had a presence in South-east Asia is the baguette. Totally removed from other types of cuisine in the region, this brilliant bread product makes great sandwiches. Tuck into a khao jee, a Laotian sandwich filled to bursting with everything from pork or pate and tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, onion, cheese and of course, chilli sauce.
Tam maak hoong
Making a salad out of a fruit like a papaya may seem alien to us, but it is a staple dish in Laos and you’ll find it everywhere, including Luang Prabang’s night market. The secret is that the papaya is used while it’s still green and therefore more like a cucumber or other vegetable. Added to this are lime juice, fish sauce and chilli, giving it a tangy and surprisingly robust flavour.
There’s something wonderful about tearing into a hot packet of freshly fried spring rolls and wolfing them down with your fingers. Whether you opt for the meat version or the veggie ones, you’ll find they are the ultimate street food and are delicious eaten straight away. After wolfing down a portion of five, you’ll be sucking the oil from your fingers with delight.
It’s always good to finish by indulging your sweet tooth, which at the night market means a coconut milk pancake. The stalls serving these up are all equipped with a special cast iron pan will small indentations that allow a dozen or so of these treats to be cooked up in the perfect two-bite morsel size. They’re made from coconut milk, rice, flour and sugar and are particularly moreish.
Related news stories:
Foodie experiences not to miss (10th April 2015)
Why has Laotian food not been widely exported to the rest of the world? (2nd April 2015)
Top tips for taking the Reunification Express (19th February 2015)
Pass an afternoon exploring Vientiane's Buddha Park (26th February 2015)