Aw Lam is one of those surprises in food experience as you travel. Its rich in flavour and has a very much a Lao earthy taste. The meat source can vary as described in the recipe. One of the most flavoursome Aw Lams is that made with the tendons of the bullock and slow cooked for many hours. It evolves as the most flavoursome and tender dish I think I have enjoyed in SE Asia.

sa-khan is the woody herb material.
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  • 4 tablespoons cooked sticky rice, flattened to 1 cm (1/2 in.) thick
  • Half a chicken breast (or other part), skinned, boned and flattened (You can also use beef, pork, smoked or cured meats)
  • Vegetables and herbs (to be soaked):
  • 2 yard-long beans, cut in 5 cm (2 in.) lengths
  • Small handful of new pumpkin shoots
  • 1 stalk lemon grass (bruised)
  • 2- 3 small sprigs dill
  • 4 leaves saw tooth herb (stinkweed; Eryngium foetidum also known as Culantro (different to cilantro))
  • 760 – 960 ml (3-4 cups) water for stock
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Knorr chicken bouillon cube (or 1 Maggi chicken stock cube)
  • 8 pieces sakhan (genus piper), each approx. 3 cm (11/4 in.) by 1 cm (1/2 in. )diameter. (Optional, or make a bouquet garni of 1 tspn Szechuan peppercorns and a dried chilli).
  • 8 Thai small round eggplants, destalked and partly cut in half vertically from the top
  • 30- 40 cm (12- 16 in.) rattan shoot cut in 3-4 cm (1 3/4 in. )pieces
  • 1-2 fresh chillies, (prik chi fah)
  • 1 large sprig holy basil (2 T), leaves only


  1. Grill the flattened sticky rice and chicken over a low flame until the rice is dry and partly brown and chicken is just cooked. Cool.
  2. Wash and prepare vegetables and herbs and put in a bowl of cold water to soak.
  3. Pour the  water into a saucepan, add the salt and crumbled stock cube and bring to the boil on a low heat.
  4. Break the sticky rice into 1 cm (1/2 in.) pieces and add to the simmering stock. Add the lemon grass, sakhan, prepared egg plants and cut up rattan. Simmer for 4 minutes. Add chillies, and simmer for 10 minutes more.
  5. When soft. remove the eggplants and chillies from stew and set aside in a mortar (or food processor).
  6. Cut the grilled chicken into 1.5 x 4 cm (3/4 in. x 1 3/4 in.) pieces, and add to the simmering stew together with the holy basil.
  7. Pulp the eggplants and chillies using a pestle and mortar (or food processor).
  8. Drain and add the remaining vegetables and herbs to the stew, then add the eggplant and chilli pulp. Remove bouquet garni if used. Add salt to taste and serve.