Finally got internet at the house again. So I'll be playing catch up these next few posts. Stay tuned.
During our third day back in Dallas we were treated to a Laotian feast fit for kings. Our good friends had a housewarming that included what seemed like 20 family-members from Kansas. And what kind of housewarming would it be without a proper buffet? Several of the visiting family members seemingly worked 16 hours straight so that we could experience a food coma. Here are some fotos of the fruits of their labor.
I apologize in advance for any misunderstandings or misrepresentations of the foods items you are about to see.
So here's everything laid out in smaller serving bowls. I wish I could give you detailed descriptions about each dish's ingredients and method of cooking, but much like when I was growing up, I was told to not ask questions and finish everything in my bowl. And that's exactly what I did. I've never been one to offend the cook, in this case several Laotian women ready to put me in my place. Though giving you my best guess of each dish would only showcase my ignorance of Laotian cuisine, I do distinctively remember lots of bamboo shoots, roasted pig and beef salad. Once again, that was beef salad. Much like a salad is a bowl full of shredded lettuce, the beef salad was a bowl of thinly-slice beef. Honestly, any cuisine with a meat salad wins my vote.
Here's a foto of the roasted pig. Each piece had a layer of moist, salty meat, rich, oily fat and crispy, crunchy skin. I think if I were to have a last meal, it would include roast pig.
They warned me that the food would be spicy, but seeing as how I love to sweat, I told them how the food was just right. So here's what they whipped up for me to eat with the food. Yes, that's just a bunch of BYA (burn your a**) pepper crushed with salt and sugar. To this they added some sort of soy sauce mixture. Let's just say I didn't again comment on how the food wasn't spicy enough.
Seem like a lot of food? It was. But that was only lunch. After a siesta, we were ready to eat some more...at least expected to.
And why wouldn't everyone be expected to eat more, especially when the out-of-town guests worked so hard on preparations. This foto was only a small portion of what was being prepared for dinner. As soon as the ladies saw me in the kitchen with a camera, threats were made on my life if any fotos were taken of them cooking. I heeded their warnings.
MY NEW FAVORITE DISH
This dish was simply called nem, which is the name of the main ingredient. Though nem is briefly described on wikipedia (last bullet under "Meat Dishes"), wiki fails to mention that it's a slightly sour type of sausage that is usually eaten while drinking beer.
What these ladies did with it wasn't anything short of genius. They crumbled huge pieces of nem by hand, mixed in rice, lime juice and other secret ingredients, reshaped the mixture into balls and deep-fried the newly-formed bundles of joy.
The result are crispy spheres that look ready for devouring. Or so I thought until I reached for one and was promptly scolded. The ladies weren't done yet. This was but a mere step in the preparation of this dish.
Next came the ball breaking and I'm not talking about them giving me a hard time all day for snapping fotos while they toiled away. The fried, steamy clump of meat and rice was then crumbled to form what almost looked like Chinese fried rice. I guess it technically was still fried rice, but I didn't refer to it as much for fear of offending the lovely ladies preparing the meal.
Finally, the mixture is tossed with fresh cilantro and served. The result is a dish combining moist steamed rice, crunchy fried pieces, sour meaty pork chunks and fresh flavorful cilantro. In other words, every bite was a spoonful of "OMG that's good!"
There were so much more delicious Laotian dishes I ate that night, but in all the celebration associated with a housewarming, my focus on fotography blurred as the night went on. Though I ate much more than I should have, my only regret is that I didn't give each lady a hug for the food they made.