3. Sen Lawn/Voon Sen with Sukiyaki (or Sukiyaki Soup with Sen Lawn/Voon Sen) ເສັ້ນລ້ອນ/ວຸ້ນເສັ້ນ ກັບນໍ້າສຸກີ້
Here’s where we had a debate on the name. Some of us call it sen lawn, the common Lao name used for clear noodles made from beans. Others say voon sen (voon meaning “jelly/gelatin”) due to its see-through textural appearance. These glass noodles cook up fast and is especially popular with hot pot because you can dip it in simmering broth and ready-to-eat under 3 minutes. Our resident chef Donna however, calls it “sukiyaki soup”. Sukiyaki gets its name from a Japanese dish of ingredients cooked in hot pot, the table-top dining became so popular in Thailand that the accompanying dipping sauce was adjusted with Southeast Asian flavors. By the time it made it to Laos, “nam suki” included fermented tofu, shrimp, coconut milk, and peanut butter, and can be described as tasting like a nutty, sweet curry. This red sauce is also a condiment to dat seen (grilled meats) where cellophane noodles sometimes get cooked along with the other proteins on the griddle. Rather than breaking out the cookware we took all the ingredients of hot pot and made individual bowls of sen lawn/voon sen cooked in broth and a spoonful of sukiyaki. Whatever you call it, we think it’s saap.
If you’re giving out presents this holiday season, a jar of sukiyaki sauce makes a great gift - it really goes well with everything - just check first that your person isn’t allergic to peanuts!
4. Mee Katee ໝີ່ກະທິ
Not to be confused with the similar-looking khao poon thanks to red curry and coconut milk, mee katee is the sweeter, creamier cousin. Literally meaning “coconut noodles”, mee katee is also an egg drop soup that’s luxuriously rich. Served with thinner-sized noodles like khao poon or pho so as not to compete with the fatty stew-like broth, other ingredients include pork belly and ground pork. Garnishes like crisp cut veggies, bean sprouts, peanuts, and fried chili peppers help add crunchy texture to an otherwise soft soup.