When I asked my friend Ty for some Laotian recipes, she sent me this recipe for Jeow Mak Len. It is like a spicy vegetable dip that you can eat on its own or with sticky rice on the side. It’s also very healthy as it has no oil nor sugar, only fruits, vegetables and fish sauce. While I was in Laos, I loved the food although sometimes it was very spicy for my palette. I also did a cooking course while in Luang Prabang. I never tried this particular dish there but the flavours reminded me of some of the salads there.
50 cherry tomatoes
4 small (or 2 large) shallots, peeled with ends cut off
Thai chilies – add quantity depending on your heat tolerance
Fresh Jalapeños – add quantity depending on your heat tolerance
Serrano chilies– add quantity depending on your heat tolerance
1 garlic head (about 10 cloves)
5 green onions, cut into shorter lengths
2 Tbsp lime juice
4 Tbsp fish sauce or to taste
2 Tbsp padek (fermented fish sauce, optional)
1/2 cup cilantro chopped
First, roast tomatoes, shallots, chilies, jalapeños, serrano chili, garlic, and green onions in oven at 260C (500F). Or roast over a grill.
Keep checking and turn to prevent burning. Remove once things roasted and charred, and this may be at different times until all ingredients are charred.
Next, pound garlic in mortar with pestle (or use a stainless-steel bowl if mortar will not hold everything). Next add the roasted shallots, green onions, and chilies. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients and mash them into a chunky sauce. If you are not accustomed to fish sauce, start with 1 tablespoon and season to taste.
Alternatively, put the ingredients in a blender and pulse. At the end, stir in fish sauce, padek and cilantro. Eat with sticky (or jasmine or brown) rice. You can also eat it with a meat protein or fried egg.
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