Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics


Laos Recipes: Khao Khua, Laab, and Mok Pa

Laos recipes could be intimidating to the novice foodie, but with the right guidance, the results can be delicious. Based off of a culturally-immersive cooking class from contributor Laura Pattara, here are some Laos recipes to get you started on the cuisine.

Laos Recipes: Khao Khua, Laab, and Mok Pa

Khao Khua (toasted rice)

Laos, Recipes, Toasted Rice, KKhoa Khua

(Photo: Flickr stu_spivack)


Khao Khua (roasted rice powder)
The perfect staple for any Laos dish. Start with khao khua.
  • 1 handful of rice grains
  1. Simply roast the rice in a frying pan without oil, until every grain has turned a dark shade of golden brown.
  2. Ground to a powder using a mortar and pestle and you’re done!


Laab, Laos, Recipes

By Takeaway (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound minced meat of your choice
  • 1 cup finely diced shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Thinly sliced hot chillis
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fermented fish sauce
  • 1 handful each of shredded coriander, mint and sweet basil
  • 1 thickly sliced cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons roasted rice powder (*see recipe below!)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  1. Cook the mince, shallots, garlic, and chilis in a frying pan with oil.
  2. Once cooked through, let the mince cool completely.
  3. Once cooled, add the shredded herbs and roasted rice powder.
  4. At last, mix the sugar, lime juice, and fish sauce in a separate bowl and drizzle on your salad.
  5. Serve on a platter adorned with cucumber slices.

Mok Pa

(Photo: Flickr James Antrobus)

(Photo: Flickr James Antrobus)

Mok Pa
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more delectable dish than Mok Pa almost anywhere in Asia. This fish stew is roasted in banana leaves. Parchment paper can be used in place of leaves if you can’t buy them where you live.
  • 3 shallots, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 spring onion
  • Chilli to taste, finely diced
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 handful dill
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • 1 handful basil
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon roasted rice powder
  • 1 teaspoon fermented fish sauce
  • 1 fish fillet of your choice (white, preferably), diced in large pieces
  • Wrap: Banana leaves (3 per pouch) and bamboo string to tie
  1. Take all the ingredients except the fish fillet, banana leaves and bamboo string, and pound them in a mortar and pestle until you are left with a thick paste. This can take a while (15 minutes or so) and requires some effort, but it is imperative to be thorough with this process and ensure every ingredient (especially the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf) is ground to a smooth cream. You can add drops of water to the mix if you find it too dry.
  2. Fold the fish into the paste and mix well with your hands.
  3. Place two banana leaves on top of each other (to form a cross), place a handful of fish mixture in the middle and fold the sides of the leaves to close.
  4. Secure with bamboo string on all sides and make sure the pouch is sealed on all sides.
  5. Roast over open coals or on a gas BBQ for 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with sticky rice.



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Wendy is the content manager for TropicsGourmet. Her long list of titles includes social media strategist, certified Reiki practitioner, and professional ukulele performer.