Of Lao blood products and Western blood pudding

I’ve been mulling about how people without access to fresh blood products such as blood cake can get the taste and colour of the fresh stuff without the food safety risks and general “yuk” factor for the faint of heart. Blood pudding – that Scottish and English breakfast standard should do the trick nicely. I’m off to my local UK food supplier, Yorkies, in Jomtien, Chonburi, Thailand to get a couple, and have a go cooking two Lao recipes using blood pudding instead of blood cake or blood, namely Akha pork balls and northern Lao khao poon. I’ll keep you posted on the experiment.

Update: Yes, it works! Not the same, but it gives colour and that rich blood flavour to the Akha meatballs. OK, so bits of black pudding floating in your Khao poon is culturally weird, but its the closest you’ll ever get to the taste of blood cake in the land of “sanitized”  pork products!

Visit to Laos Oct 2010

Kees and I are just back from Lao PDR and 2 weeks of fabulous fêting and feasting! I’ve got lots that I want to write about and will do so over the next couple of weeks. Kees is now sorting his way through hundreds of photos so we can put some in this blog and on his zenfolio site.

Highlights were the baci and party held in the Khmu  (Khamu) village of Ban Chalensouk in  Luang Namtha province, organised by the unstoppable Khamsouk.

Baci preparations

We have heaps of photos to share of the two day celebration, including food preparation for the meal after the baci (all the ingredients were local products grown or gathered: sticky rice; vegetable soop (mixed cooked vegetables with galangal, chillies and pounded roasted sesame seed – yum!; sa siin moo – a lahp-style dish with heaps of finely shaved banana flower, and an excellent forest bamboo shoot soup with pork).

Preparing Sa siin moo for post Baci feast
Preparing sa siin moo for post baci feast

Other photos are of the baci and party (7 hours of non-stop dancing!) and other meals there – three before lunch the next day – plus photos and ‘how to’ for Northern-style khao poon, the Lao national dish of noodles and accompaniments all mixed together with a flavoursome soup. I hadn’t had time to record this before publishing the book so it was a top priority for this trip.

Northern-style khao poon
Northern-style khao poon

Northern khao poon is very different from the Vientiane version – the Northern version has lots of blood and blood products whereas the Central and Southern versions have pig’s head, liver, lungs and fish, plus blood products. I hope that does not put you off – each version tastes delicious, and the blood was very, very fresh.  You can also make a very delicious khao poon leaving out all the inside bits, so not to worry!
I also want to tell you about WIG (Women’s International Group) and the presentation we did in Vientiane about northern Lao food. This will include what we did to serve Lao food as canapés at the gathering of 70 plus people.

Visit to Laos

Kees and I are off to Laos on Saturday. Can’t wait! We’ll arrive in Vientiane on Sunday evening, then on Tuesday head up to Luang Prabang. We also hope to go to Luang Namtha, depending on road conditions in the rainy season. Evidently roads are pretty bad up there right now, with landslides in the mountainous countryside. The rainy season is great for food though, with a profusion of  young bamboo shoots, gourds, mushrooms and other delights!

On 7th October Kees, Khamsouk and I will be doing a presentation on food from northern Laos for the WIG Cultural Studies group. We will use Kees’ photos, Khamsouk’s demos and talk about Northern Lao ingredients and types of dishes, then concentrate on Akha, Kmhmu’ (Khamu) and Lanten food within their individual cultural contexts. The presentation and book signing will be held at Monument Books, in Vientiane. They will also be stocking the book. I’ll post information about time etc of the presentation as soon as we know. Posters will be up around town soon.