Monkeying Around the World

Lil Dave’s Adventures with Ivan and Jennifer

Laos cooking

Laos cooking

Ivan, Jennifer and I checked out of Villa Champa Hotel on January 16, 2009.  We walked to the Tamarind restaurant.  We hopped in a tuk-tuk for our cooking class.  We were driven to the market.  Our teacher Joy showed us different ingredients that are used in Laos cooking. 

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We saw spices, different kinds of rice like sticky rice, vegetables and even rats.  Next, we were driven to the Tamarind Riverside Cooking School.  It’s located outside right by a river. 

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There’s a garden with fresh herbs growing.  It’s really nice. 

There was a glass of lemongrass and ginger waiting for us.  I asked for one with banana in it as well.  It was different, but tasted good. 

We washed our hands (paws for me) and put our aprons on.  I got to use a monkey-sized apron for me.  Laos is known for eating sticky rice at meals.  We learned that it needs to soak in water 3-4 hours or overnight.  Then, it’s drained and rinsed several times.  It’s steamed for 30 minutes.  The rice is turned over and steamed 20 minutes.

It was time to get cooking.  The first dish was Jeow Mak Keua which is an Eggplant Dip.  I got to make the monkey alternative Banana Dip.  Ivan, Jennifer and I used the mortar and pestle.  It was the first time for us to use a mortar and pestle.  It takes awhile to pound all the ingredients to make it into a soft paste. 

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The eggplant and banana dips turned out good.

Our next dish was Mok Pa, fish steamed in banana leaves.  I got to cook banana in a banana leaves.  We wrap all the food in a banana leaf.  Then, it’s placed in a bamboo basket to be steamed for 30 minutes. 

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The whole group people worked on the Orlarm which is Luang Prabang Stew.  It includes chicken,, eggplants, chili wood, mushrooms, beans, lemongrass stalks, fish sauce, dill, Lao basil, sticky rice, coriander and spring onions.  That’s a variety of ingredients.  We chopped the ingredients up and placed it in a big pot. 

We went on to make our next dish Ua Si Khai, stuffed lemongrass.  We used chicken to stuff inside.  I added banana to mine too.  It’s hard to cut the lemongrass just right, so you can open it up.  Stuffing the lemongrass is a difficult task.  We made two each.  One piece would be barbequed and the other would be deep fried.  First we put egg on it.  Then, it was set for cooking.

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The Chicken Stuffed Lemongrass, fish and stew were ready.  We were given sticky rice.  Everything tasted really good.  The banana and chicken stuffed lemongrass was really tasty.  

Our last dish was dessert.  We made the purple sticky rice.  It was heated in a pot.  We added coconut, sesame, bananas and mangos on top. 

Sticky rice with bananas and mangos 

I added extra bananas to my dessert.  It was sweet and tasted fantastic.  We enjoyed this cooking class.  Our teacher Joy was really nice.  The dishes were a lot of fun to cook.  Eating it was, of course, the best part.  We were driven back to Tamarind restaurant. 

We walked to the main street.  We went inside the Luang Prabang Spa.  We each wanted to get a shoulder and foot massage for an hour. 

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Ivan, Jennifer and I each had a Thai girl massaging us.  It felt great.

We checked in at the Lao Wooden House.  We stayed in the room for awhile.  Our stomachs were still full from all the food at the cooking school.  We just had sandwiches for dinner.  We watched part of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone right before we went to bed.  I wish I was a monkey wizard.  I would make a bunch of bananas appear!

We slept in on January 17, 2009.  We walked to Tamarind for lunch.  Ivan and Jennifer ordered a pumpkin, coconut and ginger soup.  Jennifer had a hot watermelon and chili granita.  It was a great drink but very spicy.  We ordered the Mok Pa, fish wrapped in a banana leaves.  I ordered a Mok Pa, but I got it with fish and bananas. 

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Ivan and Jen also shared a Lao Herb Omelette.  It was another great meal at this lovely restaurant.

We organized a tour to head to the Kuang Si Waterfalls.  We sat in the mini-bus for about 45 minutes.  We were given an hour and a half to see the waterfalls.  The waterfalls were pretty nice. 

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It was relaxing to sit right by the waterfalls.  Ivan and Jennifer read books.  We walked back to the entrance to board the bus.  The bus stopped a local village.  It was filled with little girls trying to sell you bracelets and purses.  We were taken back into town afterwards.

For dinner, we decided to try the Indian restaurant Nazim.  I had a banana and potato curry.  I special ordered a banana naan bread.  Ivan and Jennifer shared a chicken tikka masalaa, chicken kebab (which has yogurt and herbs), garlic naan bread and rice.  The food was real good. 

We got in a tuk-tuk headed to Lao Lao Garden.  Ivan and Jennifer ordered drinks.  We sat by the big fire.  It was really hot.  I had a virgin Big Banana drink.  We chatted and relaxed for awhile.

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