Luang Prabang | Lao Cooking


luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingTraditional Lao-style clay stove.One of the highlights of our stay in Luang Prabang was taking a Lao cooking class through Tamarind restaurant. We’d had the opportunity to eat delicious Lao food — so it was time to learn how to cook it.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingTamarind offers two types of cooking classes at its Tamarind Gardens Lakeside Cooking School: one full-day class that includes a tour of the morning vegetable market, and one four-hour evening class that doesn’t include the market tour. We opted for the evening class since we didn’t have that much time in Luang Prabang.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingOur class was taught by Joy, one of the chefs at the restaurant. The restaurant itself is along the Nam Khan river, but the school is about a 15-minute tuk tuk ride out of town. It’s a beautiful outdoor setting among gardens and ponds, with a demonstration area containing ingredients, long counters with individual cooking utensils for each student and a separate area with clay stoves for each student.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingMok pa.We made sticky rice; jeow mak keua, eggplant dip; jeow mak len, Lao tomato salsa; mok pa, fish steamed in banana leaves; oua si khai, lemongrass stuffed with minced chicken; and, for dessert, sticky rice with coconut sauce topped with a selection of fruits of our choice. The best part? We got to eat everything afterwards.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingFried chicken-stuffed lemongrass.The cooking school staff also prepared bamboo shoot soup, laap (minced meat and herb salad) and steamed vegetables to accompany the rest of the food we made. And of course, there was Beer Lao and other beverages for purchase.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingIt was a lot of food — I barely touched my dessert. My laap wasn’t as good as the version we had at L’Elephant the night before (or, I’m guessing, as good as Tamarind’s own laap), but it was still pretty tasty. Probably my favorite thing that I made was the eggplant dip/salsa — a bit spicy and really good with rice or fish.luang prabang, laos, tamarind cooking class,, lao food, lao cookingCoconut stick rice topped with tamarind and other fruit.I generally don’t enjoy sticky rice as dessert — I’m more of a Western-style ice cream or pastry dessert person — but I liked this version of coconut sticky rice because it was super-sweet and rich.It was especially fun to be able to cook since we don’t do so very often in Kabul. I had never taken a cooking class during a vacation before but it’s a fun activity and a good way to immerse oneself in an important aspect of any culture: food. It’s definitely something I’d like to repeat on future trips to new countries.Have you ever taken a cooking class?

Published by La Vie Overseas

I'm Natasha -- writer, runner and wife to a Foreign Service Officer with USAID. Current location: Frankfurt, Germany.

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