How to Celebrate Pi Mai, the Lao New Year
Chef Phet Schwader shows us how.
This week marks Pi Mai, or the Lao New Year. Here at Food & Wine, we were lucky enough to have Laos-born chef Soulayphet "Phet" Schwader come into our Test Kitchen, along with his mom, Soubhan Whitson, to show us some fantastic traditional Laotian dishes (plus a good-luck blessing). Watch the video above (and check out the recipe below) to learn how to make sticky rice and jaew sohm—a super-spicy condiment that Khe-Yo dubs “Bang Bang Sauce,” after the way it’s made with a mortar and pestle.
At Phet's New York restaurant, Khe-Yo, the chef is honoring the holiday with a spectacular tasting menu. If you can get there by April 16, you'll get to try duck tongue, wild blue catfish and bamboo stew, along with terrific array of fiery and funky sauces. And here's a bonus: Soubanh is on hand to perform to perform Su-Kwan blessing ceremony for each diner who accepts. Schwader told us almost no one says no.
Yield: 2 servings
4 cups sweet rice
Cone-shaped bamboo rice steamer with a bottom for the steamer. You can find this at any Thai grocery store.
Rinse and soak the sweet rice for 2-3 hours or overnight. Put the rice in the bamboo steamer and cover with a wet towel. Steam for 15-20 minutes. The bottom pot of the steamer should have enough water to steam, but it should not touch the bamboo steamer.
Bang Bang Sauce
4 cloves garlic
8-10 red or green fresh Thai chilies
3 Tbs. sugar
4 Tbs. lime juice
4 Tbs. Three Crabs Fish Sauce
4 stems cilantro with leaves
Combine garlic, chilies, sugar in a mortar & pestle. Pound into rough paste and add the lime juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking; the flavor should be a balanced combination of sweet, sour and salty. Finish with chopped cilantro.