30 Days Of Indie Travel: Kao Soi in the Luang Prabang Market
This month BootsnAll is hosting a project encouraging bloggers to look back on a year of travel and share stories of travel and fun. Sometimes we forget about the great places we go or the fabulous experiences we have; or perhaps there is some travel that we don’t at first consider to be ‘travel’. This is a great way to re-envision what travel means to us and realize that we all travel more than we think!
Todays Topic: Feast
We loved the food in Asia. The noodles and rice, fresh vegetables, pork, chicken and duck made into soups and stir-fries, BBQ’d and skewered in endless combinations. Even after six months in the region we never tired of it; never wished for western food and carefully planned our last few weeks of meals so that we could enjoy all our favorites before leaving.
It’s not hard to pick one of the favorite meals from our travels. It’s one that we still talk about and have yet to find now that we’re back home.
Tucked into an alley not far from the Luang Prabang night market, the food stalls send out a welcome in the form of tantalizing smells that draw us in night after night. Past the barbecued duck and the skewered song-birds is the pork grill. We stop to grab a couple of skewers of grilled pork before moving on to the fish guy. Here whole fish are encased in a system of bamboo sticks to allow them to be grilled to perfection. Our chosen fish is wrapped up in banana leaf and we head off to find a seat.
Pulling up a low stool at the soup counter we unwrap our pork and fish just as the soup lady comes over to greet us. It’s our third night here and, although she can’t speak English any better than we can speak Lao, she welcomes us with a wide smile and points to our ‘regular’ item on the menu board. We nod enthusiastically and watch as she puts the Kao Soi soup together.
She starts with some leafy greens and bean sprouts in the bottom of a bowl before covering them with long, tender rice noodles. After placing a chili along side the noodles (we begged off at one measly chili) she fills the bowl with steaming broth and tops it with the best part, a meat ragu of pork, vegetables and spices, before placing the bowls in front of us.
The rest is up to us. We choose from amongst the herbs on the accompanying plate; I can only identify Thai basil but I put some of each into my soup as they all have distinct taste that adds to the overall flavor; some are bitter, others sweet or sharp. Selecting what looks like thick soy or hoisin sauce from the tray, I squeeze some into the broth to finish it off and then give it all a stir with my chopsticks. A sqeeze of lime and it’s ready. Hot, a little spicy, and slightly sweet it is the perfect soup.
Sitting in the noisy alley cheek to jowl with other diners we enjoy the greasy pork and flaky fish in between slurps of noodles and broth. We would come again tomorrow night if we weren’t leaving town.
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