Sunday, 9 September 2012

Olympic Food Challenge - Laos - Laab Pet

When the Olympics ended I wondered what I was going to do with myself. I'd enjoyed watching the sport and I'd greatly enjoyed taking part in the Olympic Food Challenge.

Time, however, moves on and although I was originally glad to have the opportunity to pick up some more dishes to be cooked throughout the Paralympics, I have slacked off a little and I've left them to the very last minute. Now both of my dishes must be completed this weekend.... And with this being one of the sunniest weekends of the year, I am not impressed with the fact that I'm in the kitchen rather than the beer garden!

Having said that I did manage to squeeze in a fabulous 'wig and tonic' at the Wig and Pen yesterday afternoon. A combination of grapefruit infused gin, lychee liquor and tonic, it was beautiful, and perfect for sipping on one of the last few (and probably one of the first few) days of summer.

Delicious as it was, I managed to pull myself away from the cocktails and the stunning Paradise Square and headed back to the kitchen to get on with my next dish which hailed from Laos. 

Laos sent three athletes to the Olympics this year and one to the Paralympics, but they are yet to win a medal in either competition. But, of course, that's of no real consequence to me as I'm all about the food! Now Laos is situated next to both Thailand and Vietnam so I figured I was on for a good meal, especially when Twitter friend @JoolsCyprien offered a recipe for a ground duck salad (or laab pet) and even posted me some of his special 'fire-powder' to make the dish really special.

The dish was pretty simple and easy to make, which is a god send when it comes to these 'ere Olympic Food Challenges.

2 duck breasts, skin removed and diced 
3 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tbsp fish sauce
1tbs roasted rice powder ( toast rice in dry pan until golden brown, left to cool and and ground to a fine powder in a coffee grinder)
3 shallots, finely sliced
2 lemon grass stalks, finely sliced
5 spring onions, finely sliced
1/2-1 tsp roasted chilli powder (or fire-powder)
5 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
Pinch of sugar
Handful of fresh mint leaves, torn
Shredded iceberg lettuce leaves
strips of cucumber

I prepared all the ingredients first, starting off with the duck which I set about marinading in the fish sauce and lime juice. Next up was the rice powder, which smells gorgeous once all ground up.

I then made the spicy salad mix by mixing the rice powder, shallots, lemon grass, spring onions, fire powder (I only used 1/2 tsp - thank god!), Kaffir lime leaves (I could only find dried, but I'm guessing fresh would have been better), sugar and mint leaves.

The duck was cooked in all its juices over a high heat, until the liquid had evaporated and then mixed with the spicy salad mix and served on the lettuce and cucumber.

Wow! This was good. I've got a thing for spicy salads (remember the Vietnamese rare beef salad I made recently?) and this really hit the spot. It was fresh, incredibly tasty and hot. Oh my, it was HOT (in a good way). That fire-powder is amazing stuff and I have a feeling that it will take us a lifetime to work our way through the bag that Jools very kindly sent to us!

This is something that I am definitely going to do again. It was quick and easy and I think it'll work well with most meats. In fact, I'm going to have half a pound of lamb mince spare after my Olympic Food Challenge tonight so I might just make some for our lunch tomorrow...!