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 Generalissimo