Pan Mieng - Pan means to form a cup made of a salad or cabbage leaf with your fingers while mieng is the name for the way this assortment is presented and subsequently eaten.
Family members, friends and guests joining in the meal wrap pieces of grilled fish, sausage or any meaty bits on hand in a leaf or a in thin rice paper sheet soaked in water.
To this pan add pickings from the keuang kiang - mint, spring onion, peanuts, chilli, garlic, shallots, star fruit, ginger, lemon grass, white rice noodles - crispy pork skin for fish - round eggplants and whatever waiting to be smothered by a sauce (jeow).
Proceed to pop this little package into your mouth - one bite different from the next. This languorously extends the mealtime to allow for talk and gossip to pass the time of the day in a most leisurely and convivial atmosphere.
The typical jeow is a dip made of pineapple, chillies and garlic, tamarind paste and fermented fish, sugar and salt.
Pan Mieng 'Pa' (fish) is the most common version given the number of rivers in Laos which, as the providers of fish, are the principal source of protein for people's daily diet; it's available in abundance and inexpensive - go fishing.
The most popular fish nowadays is Pa Nin (an import, admittedly - tilapia - thanks to one Cleopatra) ever so easyly raised in floating water farms up and down the Maekong. The meat is firm with a pronounced flavour and a bone structure that accommodates amateurs.
Push an honest stalk of lemon grass down its throat, coat it with a generous layer of coarse salt and... well., grill it ... slowly and gently.
Yoh Khao, that's 'wrapped rice' according to the country of origin, Vietnam, or 'spring rolls' to you and me, like in spring - like in fresh.
Basically it is any kind of mixed salad minus dressing rolled up in soft rice paper and eaten as finger food. It is served with some out of this world sweet & sour peanut or fruit & honey sauces. For choice you may want to add glass noodles, sliced omelette, minced pork or smoked salmon.
The greasy fried kind has no place in Lao cooking though tourists love them, in flagrant contradiction to their name!