JAEW BONG/ LAO SALSAJaew Bong is a popular dip from Laos that I made to accompany Luang Prabang pork stew with bitter greens. This recipe I got from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet cookbook is an adaption of the classic salsa from Luang Prabang, the old royal capital of Laos. It is often eaten with sticky rice or as a side with cooked vegetables and soup. The traditional version of jaew bong uses dried water buffalo skin in the salsa.

Jaew bong is so robust in flavor. The ginger, the coriander, the galangal, the chili, fish sauce and the shallots. Very addicting. We even use this salsa with our other dishes that normally eat with rice. The sauce is hot but not insanely fiery, you can adjust that by adding or cutting back on the amount of chiles to use. I can see this to be used as a savory dip for chips too.

What you will need:
  • 6 to 9 medium small shallots, unpeeled
  • 1½ cups garlic cloves (from 3 to 4 head), unpeeled
  • 6 (or up to 10) dried red chiles
  • 1½ Tbsp chopped galangal
  • Several pinches of salt
  • 2 tsp fish sauce, or more to taste
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp warm water
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander
  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place the shallots and garlic in the skillet and dry-roast until browned and blackened on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool slightly
  2. Meanwhile, place the skillet over medium heat, add the dried chiles, and dry-roast, turning and moving them frequently, until they start to give off an aroma; they should not blacken or burn-just heat gently until they are dried out and brittle. Alternatively, you can roast the shallots, garlic, and chiles over a charcoal or gas grill
  3. Transfer the chiles to a mortar and pound them to a powder (discard any tough stems). Add the galangal and a pinch of salt and pound to paste. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside. Alternatively, place the chiles and galangal in ablender or food processor and chop them as fine as possible
  4. Slide the peels off the shallots and garlic and discard. Coarsely chop the shallots, palce them in the mortar with a pinch of salt, and pound to a smooth paste. Add the paste to t he mixture in the small bowl, then place the garlic cloves and a pinch of salt in the mortar and pound to a smooth paste. Add all the pounded ingredients to the mortar and pound together. Alternatively, add the shallots and garlic to the food processor with a pinch of salt and process
  5. Add the fish sauce and 2 Tbsp of the warm water and pound or stir to blend well. The paste should be very moist and smooth: add a little more warm water if you wish. Taste for salt and add a little more salt or fish sauce if you wish. Stir in half the coriander
  6. Transfer the sauce to a small bowl. Sprinkle the remaining coriander over the top. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers in a sealed contained in the refrigerator for several weeks

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