Luang Prabang, Laos

We were staying in the mountains of Laos at a boutique eco-resort just outside of the city of Luang Prabang. On a day trip, after spending several hours roaming, exploring, and tasting the beautiful city, we met up with the manager of the eco-resort, and she took us to the local market to purchase the produce for that night’s dinner.

At the Phousi Market, you can find everything you need from meats, poultry, seafood, spices, grains, nuts, vegetables, fruits, and many other exciting items that we could not identify.

The manager told us that most of the vegetables and fruits at the Phousi Market are grown by the local farmers in the surrounding Luang Prabang region. But when certain vegetables and fruits are not in season, they will order from Vientiane in Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and China. The market opens around, and early risers get the freshest produce.

Spring onions (ton phak bua)

Hot chili peppers (maak phet), limes (maak nao), small eggplants (maak kheua), and chayote (maak sou). Chayote is a vegetable similar to a summer squash but can be eaten raw as well like an avocado. I found tons of receipts for this versatile vegetable online=check it out!

Ginger (khiing) in the blue box, mashed dried garlic in the bags below (ka thiem), shallots (hua bua deng), tamarind (maak khaam) in the bags piled high to the left, and the spices in the bowls are all ground dried chili peppers (maak phet). The Laotian people use these chilies daily in a variety of recipes such as the classic spicy hot and sour tom yum soup.

Reminisces of previous French colonization can still be witnessed throughout the town of Luang Prabang by the smell of fresh baked French baguettes (khao jii). Loaves of French bread can easily be found being sold by street vendors, in markets, and at restaurants throughout Laos.

We picked out a papaya (maak hung) to take back to the boutique eco-resort. When I asked the manager what she liked most about this market she replied, “What I love is, you can find everything here for the resort fresh and cheap.” The eco-resort prided themselves on using only the finest organic and in-season fruits and vegetables from the local community, and from their homegrown garden as well. So, after purchasing all of the ingredients for this particular evening’s dinner, we hopped in the SUV and headed back up into the rainy mountains.

We finally return to

our meditative eco-retreat

We finally return to our meditative eco-retreat away from the moderate pace and zippy scooters of Luang Prabang.

Then nestled in two cozy chairs staring blankly over the beautiful scenery of the Pho Pha Mah mountains,

by an eco-pond that harbors small minnowos but also serves as a swimming pool for the guests, along with the sounds of nature calling us to calm – we begin to settle in again.

When a tray with two mojitos of freshly squeezed lime mixed with vodka, a bit of sugar and torn mint leaves accompanied by an appetizer of pan-roasted peanuts arrived. Soon after we were greeted and joined by a couple, a woman from New Zealand and her husband from Ireland.

The eco-resort’s menu is drawn from an Asian foundation with a Mediterranean flare. The focus of the retreat is on health and wellness, so most of the dishes offered are low fat and low salt except for this little gourmet special treat that the chef created. Peanuts sautéed in butter with lemongrass, lime, fresh ginger and a pinch of salt and butter–did I mention the butter? I couldn’t help but indulge (maybe a little too much) and had to beg the chef for her to give me the ingredients to share with you.

My favorite appetizer is the classic spring roll (yaw dip). These spring rolls were extra fun to eat since we went to the market and helped pick out the herbs and vegetables. Each roll was stuffed with green beans, spring onion, lettuce, carrots, bean sprouts, rice noodles, and mint. This peanut dipping sauce was particularly delicious and had a little chili spice to it and was another complimentary companion to the mojitos we were sipping.

The main course was this piping hot bowl of tofu (toho), and vegetable soup (foe or pho) chalked full of the tofu, tomatoes, cauliflower, lemongrass, seaweed, clear noodles and the secret ingredients of the chef’s homemade broth combined with sprigs of cilantro=perfect! 

Hope you make it to Laos someday soon to have a taste of this wonderfully enchanted place for yourself. 

Click here to see more about Luang Prabang at Lazy in Laos