The trademark characteristics of laos chili paste are its intense sweet and spicy aromatic/herbal flavours (from the chilies, garlic, galangal, shallots, etc.). Depending on the cook’s preference, the intensity of the chili heat can be customised to suit, but laos chili paste is typically remembered/famed for its appetising spiciness. The spiciness seems to be perfectly enhanced/complimented by the sweetness – making you want to eat more. The taste of mild/neutral sticky rice and naturally sweet steamed veg such as Brassica balances the equation and mellows/tempers the heat/chili sensation well.
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!
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.