Citizens, I – the secretive and benevolent Leader of TFD Nation – am an avowed chilehead and I find some of the finest spicy recipes originate from the exotic country of Laos!
Laotian cuisine uses ingredients and techniques found nowhere else in the world and their chile condiment is one of the finest you will ever try!
Jeow bong is a sweet and spicy Lao chili paste made with Lao chilies, galangal and other ingredients commonly found in Laos. Its distinguishing ingredient, however, is dried water buffalo skin. Since dried water buffalo skin is not an ingredient found at the average corner grocery store, I highly recommend using top-quality beef jerky as an effective and delicious substitute.
It is eaten usually by dipping Lao sticky rice or a raw/parboiled vegetable in it. It’s also a condiment for a Lao riverweed snack called Kaipen. Jeow bong lasts for a long time, does not spoil easily and can be either on the spicier or sweeter side, depending who makes it. Characteristically, it is both sweet and spicy.
Lao fermented fish is an integral part of this recipe but it can be hard to find. Alternatively, stew tinned or bottled anchovy fillets in fish stock until partially disintegrated. If desired, this mixture can then be sieved for a finer sauce. Preserved or fermented fish from various Asian countries also makes a good substitute, for example Filipino fermented or preserved gourami fish.
Most Lao deep-fry the shallots, lemongrass and garlic but I prefer them fire-roasted – I have also added a range of herbs common in Laotian recipes to add more layers of flavor to the condiment.
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 10 shallots
- 1 large head of garlic
- 4 stalks lemongrass
- 10 fresh red chilies such as fresno or red jalapenos
- 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves
- 1 tablespoon pea eggplants (mak keng waan) on their stalk or a small piece of regular eggplant
- ⅓ cup padek fish or substitutes as noted above
- ¼ cup palm sugar (preferred) or coconut sugar
- 1 good squeeze fresh lime juice
- ¼ cup tamarind water
- 1 teaspoon Knorr chicken stock powder
- 2 tablespoons galangal, preferably lightly roasted and peeled
- 1 stalk dill
- 2 sprigs lemon (hairy) basil (pak I tou Lao)
- 4 scallions
- 1 large clove of unroasted garlic
- ½ cup artisanal beef jerky, sliced into slivers
- In a fire or on a grill, roast the whole head of garlic and shallots, add the lemon grass to the grill.
- Thread the chilies and lime leaves onto a skewer or toothpick and add to the grill. The pea eggplants only need 30 seconds to grill, just enough to bring out the flavor. Turn as each ingredient slowly roasts and blackens. Remove as each ingredient is softened – the garlic will take the longest. Set aside to cool.
- If using actual padek: in a wok, dry fry the padek fish a few minutes until aromatic and then add 1½ to 2 cups of water, stir to break up and mix in fish and simmer for 5 minutes. Sieve over a bowl to remove the liquid.
- If using a substitute for padek such as anchovy fillets, simmer until fillets are partially dissolved in the fish stock, then sieve as above to remove and reserve the liquid.
- Dry fry the jerky in the wok to heat through and make slightly crispy and then add the strained padek water. Add the Knorr and more water. Simmer while you do the next step, adding more water if needed.
- Remove the black and blistered skin from the chilies, remove the blackened outer sheath from the lemon grass and remove the garlic cloves from their blackened papery covering and peel the shallots.
- De-stem the pea eggplants. Rinse by pouring over some water to rinse. Discard water containing the excess blackened bits.
- Slice the garlic and shallots crosswise and the chilies vertically into strips, removing the seeds. Slice the lemongrass finely from the bottom up the stalk until if feels a bit tough, then stop. Discard the tough green bit.
- Slice the galangal, then cut across into 2 tablespoons of fine shreds.
- Add all the ingredients except the chilies to the simmering mixture. Top up with more water if needed.
- Remove the dill and lemon basil leaves from their branches and put into cold water. Chop the scallions into ⅓ inch pieces.
- When the mixture has begun thickening, add the herbs, the sliced unroasted garlic clove and then half of the chilies. Stir to mix.
- Add to a food processor and process into a puree.
- Just before serving add the rest of the chilies, then transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with basil.
- Category: Recipes
- Calories: 249.02 kcal
- Sugar: 26.2 g
- Sodium: 119.48 mg
- Fat: 1.75 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.6 g
- Trans Fat: 0.0 g
- Carbohydrates: 53.06 g
- Fiber: 6.77 g
- Protein: 10.51 g
- Cholesterol: 10.25 mg
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