En route to Boualapha recently, we stopped for a light roadside lunch of sour pickled fish (som paa) and sour pickled pork (som muu), both of which had been grilled in banana leaves. Each little packet opened to the most potent pate-like wedges (white fish, pink pork) with a firm consistency and an incredibly sour kick in the tongue. Just a little bit of som mixed with a ball of sticky rice, alternated with an accompanying jaeow: delicious! The jaeow maengda came in little plastic cups from Thailand–so the label actually had the Thai name, nam prik maengda, though this same variety is made and eaten on this side of the river, too. It was a particularly dry and crumbly style, slightly sweet, with the consistency of pork flossy. Its ingredient of note was a water cockroach that lives in the countryside.
The shop owner told us she makes som every day with nothing more than fermented fish (or fermented pork), garlic (and lots of it), cooked sticky rice, salt and MSG.