Lao Sour

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.

5 thoughts on “Lao Sour

  1. Yum. There’s nothing better than some freshly grilled som moo and hot sticky rice. Too bad you don’t have any little chilies to take a nip of off. Som moo normally also has pork skin added in as well. This version seems more like the Vietnamese nem.

  2. Maengda tastes eerily like fake banana flavor to me – and I can’t shake it. Have you ever eaten the banana flavored Runt candy? That’s all I taste when I eat maengda. Weird, almost-but-not-quite banananess. Am I the only one creeped out by the similarity there? Do you like it Karen?

  3. Nikkipolani, Souavarat: yes, but somehow these tasted even more tart. We had decent chile heat from the jaeow, though I would have preferred a different type in this scenario. I loved the fish in particular. Big chunks of garlic, too (as you can see well in the photo — all those white flecks are garlic). Bad breath delight!

    Jarrett, I don’t get banana flavor but definitely sweet. It reminds me too much of the sweet-salty-crispy fish found in Thailand. And no, to be honest, I have never been overly fond of sweet spice (or sweet fish, or sweet water bugs). But I found it acceptable when mixed with the super tart som.

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