Laos – Luang Prabang – walking round Phosy Market

I took two cookery classes at two different restaurants while I was in Luang Prabang, more of which in the next post. Both classes started with a shopping trip to Phosy Market to look at the ingredients we’d be using, and many more we wouldn’t. On the second visit I saw lots of things I missed the first time, so there’s definitely plenty to see.

Phosy is the main food market in Luang Prabang. The fruit and veg is outside under umbrellas while the meat, fish and dry goods are under cover inside a large building.

It was really interesting to see so many different ingredients and have a knowledgable guide who could explain them.

Here she’s telling us about a common ingredient in Lao cuisine, Mai Sakaan ໄມ້ ສະຄານ, an ingredient that is best described in English as ‘spicy chili wood.’

Mai Sakaan is very fibrous so it should be chewed and then spat out. It’ll make your tongue tingle in a similar way to Sichuan pepper.

Other things were more recognisable such as…

Chillis ໝາກເຜັດ [ma᷆ːk.pʰét].

Garlic ກະທຽມ [ka.tʰíam].

Lemongrass ຫົວສີໄຄ houa sikai.

Banana Flowers ໝາກປີ [ma᷆ːk.pìː].

Bamboo Shoots ໜໍ່ໄມ່ [nɔ̄ː.mâj].

Another kind of bamboo shoot maybe.

Lao Aubergines ໝາກເຂືອ [ma᷆ːk.kʰɯ̌a] and Limes ໝາກນາວ [ma᷆ːk.náːw].

There are many other kinds of eggplants. These are berry eggplant ໝາກແຄ້ງຂົມ mak keng kom or what I’d call pea aubergines.

Green beans ໝາກຖົ່ ວເບີອ mak tua beua.

There are various kinds of gourds. At the top we have the Snake Gourd ໝາກນອຍຍາວ mak noi nyaow and at the bottom is the Angled Gourd or Silk Melon ໝາກໜອຍ mak noi.

These tiny gourds are called Gadawm ໝາກກະດອ່ມ mak gadawm.

Hog Plums ໝາກກອກ mak gawk, mak kok, a sour fruit.

Tamarind ໝາກຂາມ [ma᷆ːk.kʰǎːm].

These look like Oyster Mushrooms ເຫັດນາງລົມ het nang lom.

Here we have banana leaves…

… which are used for making “steamed food” ອາຫານຫນື້ງ ahan neung.

And there were many, many kinds of rice, mostly sticky ເຂົ້າໜຽວ [kʰa᷆w.nǐaw].

Other things were harder to identify and name.

Dill ຜັກຊີ pak sii is a popular herb in Laotion cuisine but I think this might be some other kind of plant, perhaps a river weed.

In other south-east Asian countries this is known as ‘fish mint,’ ‘fish herb’ or ‘fish leaf’ but I don’t know the Lao name.

Scarlet Wisteria ດອກແຄ [dɔ᷆ːk.kʰɛ́ː] aka Sesbania Grandiflora the blossom of which is eaten as vegetable in soups and curries.

Bottom left are I think cucumbers ໝາກແຕງ mak taeng whereas to the right are Chayote mak su, or what I’d call Christophines in a Carribean context.

Above those are a bowl of small Bitter Gourds. Centre left is Pumpkin ໜາກອຶ mak eu.

These I believe are Chayote Greens.

This is Cinnamon and perhaps another kind of Cassia bark.

Here we have what look like eels.

And I think this is a type of catfish.

Can anyone tell me what the follwing are?

In the indoor market the butchery section is not a place for those with a faint heart.

Congealed pig blood or pig blood curd/tofu is used in a lot of soups.

You can buy Buffalo Skin, either with the hair on or hair off.

The same stall sells Kaipen ໄຄແຜ່ນ [kʰáj.pʰɛ̄ːn], from centre to bottom left in the pic; dried sheets of edible green algae from the Mekong, a product for which Luang Prabang is famous. In appearance and flavour it’s comparable to Japanese nori.

This lady is selling me Lao-style fish sauce ປາແດກ [pàː.dɛ᷆ːk]. As Laos is a landlocked country, the local fermented fish sauce is made from river fish.

Back at the restaurant I transferred the contents of this murky bag into a water bottle in order to take it home in my suitcase. I dread to think what it would be like if it leaked!

Now we have our ingredients, let’s get cooking!

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