I was hoping to blog about a community group in Pha Bong, 10km outside Mae Hong Son, that gets together every weekend to make a spice mixture for laap, but when I drove out there on Saturday they weren’t able to get enough lemongrass (they need a lot of lemongrass) and had rescheduled for the next day. Unfortunately I was leaving Mae Hong Son then and did not get a chance to witness this…
Dejected but hungry, the next best choice was to head to Laap Khom, a restaurant in Mae Hong Son that uses the very spice mixture.
The owner of Laap Khom is the type of older Thai man who screams at you (in a friendly way, of course), then pats you on the back and makes you feel welcome. Despite owning a restaurant specialising in northern Thai dishes, he and his wife are originally from Isaan, and their daughter is the only local.
To make laap khua they simply take an order of raw laap, which apparently has been seasoned ahead of time, and fry it up in a small wok:
‘Usually my mom does this,’ explained the girl apologetically as she cooked. She needn’t apologise as it’s a decent dish — not the most refined laap khua you’re going to find in the north, but rich and tasty. The dish is served with a variety of fresh herbs, a couple of which are bitter, a slightly bitter dipping sauce made coarse with the addition of roasted rice powder, and of course, sticky rice.
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