Luang Prabang salad is an easy, simple dish with a slightly unusual dressing that's a classic in Laos. This Laos salad is a perfect light lunch or side dish both to Asian food and many more.
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I mentioned a while ago when I shared larp (or larb, Laos chicken salad) that Laos was one of the places we visited on our honeymoon many years ago now. While there are still many places on my list to visit that I haven't been to, Laos is definitely one I want to go back to.
I don't know for how much longer, but it didn't feel ruined by tourism and the culture is truly something special. We were in the Luang Prabang area which is filled with the gentle bells and glistening decorations of Buddhist temples. Apart from when they are setting off fireworks for festivals, that is.
While I was there I took a Laos cooking lesson. It was a great experience, and one I'm glad I did. We made a number of dishes in the short time, including a few I had tried before then in restaurants already.
We also made this common Laos salad often known as Luang Prabang salad which was a lovely accompaniment to the other dishes.
What distinguishes Laos food?
Laos is geographically between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and the food is very much a reflection of that. Think lime, lemongrass, cilantro and chili flavors and sticky rice accompanying most meals.
A lot of Laos dishes are similar to Northern Thai food, and in fact they were the same country in the past so it's not surprising there is a lot of crossover (like green papaya salad).
The other big influence in Laos is that it used to be a French colony and you see that in the food particularly bread. Baguette-style bread is the base for many sandwiches which are sold on every other street corner, alongside crepes and grilled foods.
How to make this classic Laos salad
This salad has maybe a little French influence in it but with a regional twist too. The dressing is almost like a mayonnaise, but uses a clever trick of cooked egg-yolk to keep it more stable. It also has added lime juice to make it more distinctly Laos.
The rest of the salad can vary but usually has a mix of greens, including watercress as the base, some tomato, cucumber and hard boiled egg. You might get some crispy pork on top or some peanuts (which I had but completely forgot to put on top before I ate it).
This salad is fresh, light and just that little bit different from your basic green salad. It makes a great side to many a meal, both Asian and others. Or enjoy it as a light lunch just as you might in the Laos heat. However you choose, give it a try.
Try these other tasty Asian salads:
- Nam tok, Thai beef salad ("waterfall beef")
- Vietnamese chicken salad
- Cambodian green mango salad
- Yee sang, Chinese salad (aka "prosperity toss")
Plus try more Southeast Asian recipes from the archives.
Luang Prabang salad (Laos salad)
- 3 eggs hard boiled
- 2 cups lettuce 70g
- 1 cup watercress 20g
- ½ cup mixed leaves optional, eg arugula, radicchio
- 1 tomato large
- ⅓ cucumber approx 3in/7.5cm piece
- 1 tbsp unsalted roasted peanuts optional, approx, to top
- ½ tbsp cilantro/coriander approx, to top
- 2 yolks from the hard boiled eggs , above
- 2 tbsp vegetable or avocado oil
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- ½ tbsp sugar
- salt and pepper
- Start by hard boiling the eggs. You can use your preferred method, but probably the easiest is to put the eggs in a pan, cover with cold water at least 1in/2.5cm over the eggs and bring to the boil. Once the water boils, turn off and leave the eggs in the water for 10-12min then drain and run under cold water to stop them cooking. When cool, carefully peel the eggs.
- As the eggs are cooking, roughly chop the lettuce (and other greens, if using) and divide between 2-3 plates, along with the watercress.
- Slice the tomato and cucumber and lay on top of the greens.
- Scatter over the peanuts, if using, and cilantro.
For the dressing
- Cut two of the eggs in half and remove the yolk. Mash or break up these two yolks in a small blender. Add the remaining dressing ingredients (oil, lime juice, vinegar, sugar and a little salt and pepper) and blend until smooth. Note make sure the yolk is broken up and smooth before you add the other ingredients or it won't work after.
- Cut the remaining egg into quarters or slices and put on the salads. Cut up the leftover whites and add to the salads too, if you like. Drizzle over the dressing and serve.
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