Nam Khao, the Laotian crispy rice salad, is one of the most popular dishes in Lao cuisine.
The Thai version for me plays second fiddle to the Nam Khao in Laos. It is a more rustic, hearty variation that seems open to each cook’s individual interpretation that often surprises.
What I love about Nam Khao is that it is served in a single dish with the leaves and herbs on the side.
No need to daintily insert individual condiments, just grab a spoon, dig in and use leaves to create a Nam Khao ‘burrito’. Generous amount of fresh herbs and other leafy bits combine to create explosive flavours.
Just roll it up and get it down your neck. This fork includes a dried chili in every bite just for good measure.
In addition to the traditional wild pepper leaves, in Laos your veggie basket is full of several types of salad and other unknown wild foliage.
Except for a small serving at Khop Chai Deau in Vientiane, extensive daily inquires and hunts for Nam Khao in Luang Prabang and came up empty everytime.
Obviously I didn’t know where to look.
The Tha Hua Me Guest House owner drew a crude map with instructions to walk up Kitsalat Road to Dara Market and there would be dozens of stalls. After a 20-minute trek and numerous inquiries we returned to the room hungry.
Then a turning left on Kingkitsarath Road walking toward the Nam Khan River produced results. Miraculously several shops appeared near the T-junction before the river.
Unfortunately all vendors were sold out by lunch as it was already late afternoon (ouch).
So returning early the next morning to eat Nam Khao for breakfast was the only option before the flight back to Vientiane.
All washed down with ice-cold Beer Lao. Like the Lao mountain meat Pho it tasted too good, I wanted more but the flight beckoned.