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Lao New Year recipe: Mushroom Laab

Laab is a popular dish eaten during the Lao, Thai and Cambodian New Year.

Lat14 Asian Eatery is serving mushroom laab in celebration of the Lao New Year.

Lao New Year, or Boun Pi Mai, falls in mid-April and takes place over 3-4 days. It marks the beginning of a new solar year, as the sun enters Aries and comes close to the Vernal Equinox.

The exact dates Lao New Year occurs on can vary from year-to-year. However, it always falls on 3 days between April 13th and 18th.

New Year celebrations in Lao are similar to Songkran, Thai New Year. This is the most important festival of the year in Laos.

Day One

  • This is the last day of the old year. Statues of Buddha images are cleaned with water and people throw water at each other, to 'wash away' any bad will that related to the past year.

Day Two

  • The second day is known as the 'day of no day", a day that falls in neither the old year or the new year. People parade to the local monasteries to hear services from the monks. A popular highlight of the day is the parade featuring the winner of the Miss New Year beauty pageant.

Day Three

  • This is the first day of the New Year. Begins with an early morning procession of monks and alms giving or tak bat.
  • Many people in Lao believe in kwan (spirits which live inside humans, animals, plants and inanimate objects). On the first day of the new year, the tradition is that the kwan might leave the body and be exposed to bad omens for the coming year. To make sure the kwan return to the body, a ceremony called Baci is performed. Chant are made by a village elder to make the kwan return to the body. then white thread is tied around wrists to keep the kwan inside and wish the kwan good luck for the year ahead.

Day Four

  • The most sacred images of Buddha images are put on temporary display and people will dress in their finest traditional clothes and make offerings to ask for good luck in the coming year.

Like many special celebrations around the world, a lot of food is eaten on Boun Pi Mai. Common food you’ll probably encounter include the following:

  • Sticky Rice
  • Green papaya salad
  • Barbequed chicken, pork and beef
  • Steamed or Fried fish
  • Laab: a dish consisting of meat, herbs, and salad.

Lat14  will be offering the Mushroom Laab as a New year Celebration special.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 32oz. Mushrooms (the weight of the mushrooms should reduce by 25-50 percent when cooked)
  • Oysters
  • Cremini
  • Beech
  • Trumpets

DIRECTIONS:

-Chop mushrooms into roughly 1 inch pieces (quartered or halved). Reserve trimmings.

-Roast the mushrooms with oil and salt at 450° for 10-15 mins. Allow to cool.

-Make a mushroom stock. Grill the mushroom trimmings and put them in a pot. Cover with water and simmer for 15 mins or so.

BUILDING THE DISH:

In a bowl, toss together:

  • Roasted mushrooms
  • 4 T. mushroom stock
  • 4 t. lime juice
  • A few dashes of vegan fish sauce (Ocean’s Halo brand)
  • 56g fresh lemongrass, thinly sliced
  • 4 T. toasted rice powder
  • 4 t. crushed roasted Thai chili
  • 4oz. peeled small shallots cut lengthwise
  • Mint leaves
  • Cilantro
  • Sprinkle of makrut Lime leaf chiffionade

Top with:

  • Crispy Fried Shallots
  • Red Thai chilies
  • Drizzle of sesame oil

Suggested Serving: With lettuce leaf, cucumber slices and sticky rice.