I thought long and hard about the first recipe I’d share on this blog. I have many favorite Lao dishes, which vary in degrees of difficulty and time consumption. Maybe I should begin with something of cultural significance, or perhaps something that everyone identifies with being Lao? At last, though I had it all planned out with sequence dishes that made sense, I have to admit that I was a little over zealous! Where has the time gone?
Today, after one hour of grocery shopping and coming out to a not too friendly Pacific Northwest Spring weather, I rushed home instead of hopping on the freeway to another store to find that missing ingredient for the inaugural dish worthy of this blog and its followers ;) Before I could put all the vegetables and meat away, a nagging feeling tugged at me: I sometimes need a pick me up when things don’t go according to plans… I am an overachiever I’m afraid, a little too committed to my ideas and own expectations, and something as small as NOT finding an out of season herb could annoy the heck out of me! Usually, I can tuck away that annoyance with a cheer me up or tasty treat that would kick my original plans in the derrière, with a new found ingredient to experiment with, or surprisingly fresh exotic fruits…
At the market, some fresh green mangoes with traces of sap still on their skin were my nice surprises. I bought a couple of them to test out since I am the only one at home who would devour them. I prayed they were super sour and crunchy. If you have been to Southeast Asia and/or of Lao descent, chances are you are already salivating. Eating something sour dipped in a spicy, salty, and sweet sauce is one of the favorite snacks, mid-day or any time as a matter of fact. I am one of those who have had dreams about this combined taste (sweet, sour, salty, and spicy, the 4 S of Southeast Asian cuisines), which would send my tongue tingling with joy and taste buds jumping off the wall! Who needs ‘Sour Patch Kids’ candy when you can have sour green mango with spicy dipping sauce?
Here is my recipe for the dipping sauce for all your “sour fixes”. I hope it will wet your appetite as I find the time, and all fresh ingredients, for the following dishes. This is after all, a perfect first recipe, since it brings me back to that house on the Mekong, where my grand mother weaved…
‘Jeo’ ແຈ່ວ – Dipping Sauce for Sour Fruits
- 2 tbs sugar
- 1 tbs ‘Kapi’ or shrimp paste
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs ‘Padaek’ *
- 1 tbs ‘Khao Khua’or ground roasted rice (see pantry if you don’t know how to make it)
- 1 shallot, sliced
- 1 tsp ground chili pepper
- 2-3 fresh chili pepper, sliced
How to make ‘jeo‘:
* In case you do not eat or use padaek in your cooking, you can substitute with fish sauce. The taste, however, will be milder/not as salty. I would recommend adding a pinch of salt to the sauce to make it tastier. I try to minimize MSG in my cooking as well, letting the fresh ingredients and their flavors shine through, but a dash of it wouldn’t hurt!