Memorable holiday food moment: ping paa


Ping paa left and far right and various ping (grilled) meat centre

Ping paa – whole fish, stuffed with knotted stems of lemongrass, clamped between a bamboo device and grilled over hot coals at the night food market in Luang Prabang, Laos. Lemony, meltingly soft flesh – that we picked clean from the bones with plastic chopsticks – and crisp-thin, lightly charcoaled skin made this fish lip-smackingly scoffable. The stray cats that nudged our ankles and shared our spoils agreed.

What’s your most memorable holiday food moment?

Read more about Laotian food at Laos: a culinary trail.



Filed under Gastronomic Travels

18 responses to “Memorable holiday food moment: ping paa

  1. Rachel, this looks amazing! I can almost smell that smoke and the beautiful lemongrass and fish. Must check if I have that market on my world markets lists… is there a web site, I wonder? I will pop in and read your Laos snippet.

    My most memorable holiday food moment? In 1994, Langos in Stockholm. See my post on the multicultural festival for a description of Langos. It’s basically fried dough, rubbed with garlic. Divine!

    More recently (and bearing in mind that Asia is still on my bucket list), Green Papaya Salad at the Parap Village Markets in Darwin last year. It was amazing!


    • Hi Lizzy,
      Thanks for dropping by. I haven’t found a website for this night food market – but it was a tremendous find. Langos sounds good – i love anything with lots of garlic. And a knock-out green papaya salad is a firm favourite in our house too. Hmm – all this is making me hungry!


  2. What a great way to eat fish! Street foods are often a highlight of my holidays, too… the atmosphere, the instant gratification.


    • It was prepared so simply, yet was stunning. It was absolutely the best fish i’ve ever eaten. It makes me want to head straight back to Luang Prabang – gorgeous destination.


  3. Food eaten while on holiday is often so simply prepared… and so incredibly tasty! I wonder if it’s because the food is really that wonderful, or are we more willing to relax and enjoy it because we’re in holiday mode? One night in Kyoto, Japan my husband and I stumbled on a vegetarian tempura place. I’ll never ever forget the slices of shatteringly crisp tempura’d sweet potato. Dreamy.


    • Thanks for sharing your tempura’d sweet potato memory – i can just imagine it. And i think you’re on to something about the ‘greatness’ of holiday food. I suspect, as you say, it often tastes so good because we’re relaxed and in holiday mode. And of course someone else is cooking it and will be doing the washing up … which always helps!


  4. Nothing better than a food moment that takes you straight back there in an instant. A travel-nom-memory. Love it.


    • I love reliving my travel through the food memories. And the food just never tastes the same when i try to recreate it back home. Which reminds me … must plan the next trip!


  5. I have so many wonderful travelling food memories it is difficult to pick just one, but Hong Kong features in a lot of them.
    Like the time we stopped for lunch at a restaurant which was full of locals – not a white face in sight. It was packed to the gills and we shared a table. Couldn’t read the menu, so we just indicated to the waiter that he should choose for us and proceeded to enjoy one of the freshest and most delicious meals of that particular trip.
    Like your fish meal, it often seems that the unexpected yields the most surprises.


  6. ChopinandMysaucepan

    Dear Rachel,

    I love the smoky flavours of this kind of grilled fish especially with flavours like lemongrass and chilli. Now where’s that cold beer?


  7. Ooh good question! The most recent SE Asian one was us huddled over a small table on tiny stools eating this amazing chicken rice in Saigon. I really want to make it again!


    • Don’t you just love those little kindergarten sized tables and chairs found kerbside around much of Asia. It’s a lovely way to eat, especially when you have a “food find” in front of you, such as your Saigon-style chicken rice. Thanks for sharing your travel food memory.


  8. I love the food in South east asia! esp all their grilled meats and seafood! nom nom nom


  9. This grilled fish looks and sounds delicious! I absolutely adore street food. I can’t quite decide on my most memorable holiday food moment … there have been too many! But I do recall a trip to Genoa one summer where seafood was in abundance. My husband and I went crazy for it, not just because we had been deprived of good seafood living just next door in Switzerland, but it was so damn cheap in Italy! I think we ate seafood everyday for about 2 weeks 🙂


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