I have never been to Laos but I have a Laotian friend when I lived in the Bay Area. I remember one of the potluck parties at the office, she prepared a delicious grilled chicken that got me hooked. The chicken was marinated with lemongrass and the fish-sauce dipping sauce was so delicious I got a second helping of the chicken. I never asked her for the recipe.
A few months ago, when my copy of Food & Wine Annual Cookbook 2012 arrived, the lemongrass cilantro chicken immediately caught my eyes. The recipe headnote states that the chicken is called pings, or simple grilled dishes that are very popular all over Laos, and that the lemongrass cilantro chicken is a great example of pings.
I immediately earmarked the recipe and made it over this past weekend. While I can’t say that the recipe is exactly what my Laotian friend made, but it was pretty close. The taste and flavors are what I remember: the aroma of lemongrass, the fragrance of cilantro leaves, and the sweet, savory, sour, and pungent dipping sauce. I just love it.
I styled the photos almost identical to the magazine. Serving on a sheet of banana leaf, drizzling some of the dipping sauce on top of the chicken pieces, and top them off with some mint leaves and cilantro leaves. The dish is as pleasing to the eyes as it is to the stomach.