not all who wander are lost.

Monday, June 6, 2011

SE ASIA: Jaew Mak Len

Laos is FULL of delicious long as you are NOT eating at the restaurants, but instead off the beaten path, making your way into the small markets. In Vang Vieng I was introduced to the best little backstreet market by my Rock Climbing guide, Yong. For about 25cents (US) you could get a little two serving bag of Jaew Mak Len, a roasted tomato and chili dip that is sometimes called the "salsa of southeast asia". It is delicious when eaten with hunks of sticky rice -- but now that I'm back in the States, it's also enjoyed with chips as a dip, or on top of some grilled steak (or chicken/fish). Here's a recipe that I came up with that is as close as you're gonna get to the real deal:

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 3-4 thai chili peppers
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 6 shallots
  • 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

Put the tomatoes on skewers. Put the garlic and shallots on a seperate skewer, and reserve another for the chili peppers. I used the barbeque -- you COULD roast them in the oven but I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you grill them over a FLAME. Grill until fragrant, charred, and completely cooked throughout. (**BE CAREFUL WITH THE THAI CHILIS: when you put them on the skewer, their oil coats the skewer - so be cautious of how you are handling them. I touched my arm after handling them and had to apply an ice pack because the little bit of oil burnt my skin.) Anyways, after you take the goods off the grill - let them cool a bit. Now peel off the charred skins (except for the thai chilis, they can keep their red hot exterior). If you have a mortar and pestle then use this to mash up the ingredients. Otherwise just put everything into a food processor and give it a few shots. Add the fish sauce, agave nectar, salt and lime juice. When it's completely finished let it a cool a bit and then mix in the cilantro. Serve at room temperature (as is mostly everything in Laos). ENJOY.

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