Yes, the Missus is missing some of the dishes She had in Luang Prabang already, especially the Luang Prabang Salad, a local specialty. The Missus could not have a lunch (and sometimes dinner) without it. One of the key ingredients of the salad is Phak Nam, the local watercress. The watercress that we were served in Luang Prabang was young and tender, looking almost like Kaiware, Daikon Sprouts. The flavor was very mild, faintly peppery, slightly bitter(they enjoy bitter flavors), with some sweet overtones. But what the Missus enjoyed most about the salad was the dressing, which seemed to have a European-Lao pedigree, that used both fish sauce and egg yolks, and as with many Lao recipes, was put together using a mortar and pestle.
Here's a photo of the Missus's favorite version of the salad:
From Soucham Restaurant, She had this salad 3 times during our stay in Luang Prabang.
Upon our return, the Missus was craving the salad. Fortunately, I purchased a little pamphelet called; Tamarind's Little Book of Salads during our visit to Tamarind Restaurant. Even though the little booklet is only 14 pages long one of the recipes included is for Luang Prabang Salad. I've taken several liberties with the recipe; replacing the lime juice with lemon juice, we were sure that the version the Missus enjoyed the best was made with lemon juice, I used a combination of palm sugar and granulated sugar, and we couldn't find a nice tender watercress, though Nijiya will carry something similar once in a while; so I used a combination of tender pea shoots and Romain lettuce hearts. It didn't turn out too bad.
I made the dressing a bit thicker than what is served in Luang Prabang, and will probably thin it out next time I make this; per the Missus' request.
So without further ado:
3 Large Hard Boiled Eggs (do not over cook)
1 Clove Garlic - roasted
1/2 - 1 1/2 Tsp Sea Salt (aka "A Lao pinch of salt")
1 Tb Canola Oil
2 Tb Water
2-3 Tb Lemon Juice
1 Tb Palm Sugar
1/2 Tsp Sugar
Fish Sauce to taste
2 Cups Romain Lettuce Hearts Chopped
1 Handful tender Pea Shoots, or even better, tender watercress
2 Scallions - Green parts only, sliced thin
3 Tb cilantro chopped fine
3 Tb mint chopped fine (optional)
1 - Slice eggs in half lengthwise, remove yolks, and slice whites thinly.
2 - Place eggs yolks, garlic, palm sugar, and salt in a mortar and pound into a paste.
3 - Add oil, lemon juice, water, and fish sauce (if desired) and combine. Taste, and adjust flavors, and thin out with additional water if desired.
4 - Combine pea shoots, cilantro, and scallions.
5 - Place Romain lettuce in a layer in the middle of serving plate; mound pea shoot mixture on top of lettuce. Arrange cucumber slices and tomato on plate.
6 - Pour dressing over salad before serving.
- To add a nice touch to the salad; top with crumbled pork rinds.