Laab Lettuce Wraps
Thum Muk Hoong (Papaya Salad)
One of the most popular dishes of Laos, papaya salad (also known in Laos as “thum muk hoong”) is known for its elegant combination of salty flavors, chiles, lime juice, and fresh unripe papaya.
Vegans avoid animal ingredients such as “meat,” sea life, eggs, dairy, and honey, all of which are products of suffering and exploitation. Fortunately, many foods from Laos are in fact vegetable dishes and dairy-free, with the staple dish being sticky rice. Lao food uses flavors like citrus and spice and ingredients like fresh herbs to make delicious combinations of flavors that also taste exquisite without the use of animal-based ingredients.
Laos was colonized by the French in the late-19th to the mid-20th century and was also devastatingly impacted by the “Secret War,” during which the U.S. dropped more than 270 million cluster bombs on the country. This tragic war makes Laos the most-bombed country per capita in history, and there are still more than 80 million cluster bombs in Laos that have not detonated. There are a few grassroots organizations dedicated to fighting for justice for the people of Laos by physically removing cluster bombs one by one.
Despite these tragic circumstances, Khon Lao (Lao people) are resilient and continue to honor Lao traditions, including their food. We hope you enjoy delicious versions of some of your favorite Lao dishes—or try new ones!
A big thanks to everyone who contributed recipes for this site.
Ma der, ma der (come over, come over)! Khop jai lai lai (thank you very much)!