Her food splits neatly into three separate categories, Isan (local specialities), Thai and Western, & is offered, as far as possible, in either a vegetarian or non-vegetarian format.
Pictured opposite is Laab, probably the most famous Isan dish made with finely chopped chicken or pork and mixed with a marvelous array of different spices to produce a highly original tangy flavour. As a vegetarian variation, we make a mushroom Laab which sells fast, even to carnivores!
|However, sticky rice offers something ordinary jasmine rice never can, for mixed with coconut milk, sprinkled with nuts and served with mangos, it becomes Kao Niao Maa Muong... Mouthwatering (see right)
What about Thai food? Well many Thai dishes are seafood or fish based. The Maekong river is used extensively to farm fish... Tilapia (Plaa Nin) and other varieties are grown in baskets built in the river.
Pao loves to cook.
I have told her not to, & insisted she takes a rest after she's been teaching at the Technical College all day, but she doesn't listen! Lucky for our guests though! Her fusion of Thai and Western cuisine is light, bright and yummy... (see also Le Silapa, Laos)
|Two other local specialities, which we often serve, are Saikraw Preow and Kao Niao Maa Muong. What's that I hear you say?
Well, we have a large Vietnamese population here in the north-east and they like to make sausages, particularly sour ones stuffed with herbs. So Saikraw means sausage and Preow means sour...and they're delicious! (See left)
But the thing that everyone knows about the Isan area, is that people traditionally grow sticky rice, or "Kao Niao" as it is known in Thai or Lao. This chewy sticky variety of rice grows better in poor soils and dryer landscapes. Though irrigation and better farming techniques mean that other types of rice can be grown in this area, sticky rice remains a staple crop on the Isan plain.