Recipe for Laotian buffalo laap

Laap is the national dish of Laos. It is a minced meat (or fish) salad, served with large amounts of fresh vegetables and herbs.

Like the recipe for Peruvian ceviche, the meat in a laap is traditionally raw and “cooks” in the large amount of lime juice used. A more farang (foreigner) friendly version involves the meat being cooked first.

Buffalo is a common and delicious meat base for laap. Any meat or fish can be used, but buffalo was our favourite: it is the tastiest we tried and very chewy.

For vegetarians, substitute buffalo meat with tofu, aubergines or mushrooms.

Laotian buffalo laap ingredients
Ingredients for Laotian buffalo laap


Ingredients for buffalo laap

  • 150g of buffalo minced meat
  • half teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
  • 5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1 shallot sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh galangal finely chopped (similar to ginger, which is a good alternative to use)
  • 1 red chilli (more if you dare, less if you prefer less kick)
  • a handful of beansprouts (soaked briefly in hot water to soften)
  • 1 long bean or 5 chopped runner beans (uncooked but washed)
  • a handful of chopped coriander
  • 4 saw tooth leaves if you have it (these are popular leaves in Southeast Asia, like coriander but stronger)
  • 1 small handful of finely sliced banana flower (optional – if you can find it)
  • 3 spring onions finely chopped
  • juice from 1 lime
  • a handful of chopped mint
  • 1 tablespoon of roasted sticky rice powder (buy from local Chinese supermarket)
  • 1 teaspoon of dried chilli powder
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass (white section) – use around 5 finely sliced pieces like this:
Stefan preparing the sliced lemongrass
Stefan preparing the sliced lemongrass for the buffalo laap


How to make buffalo laap

1. Lightly cook the buffalo meat in a pan, adding the salt and a tablespoon of fish sauce.

2, Remove the meat from the pan and place it into a deep mixing bowl and using your hands, mix in and combine all the other ingredients.

Stefan learning how to make Laotian buffalo laap
Stefan learning how to make Laotian buffalo laap on the streets of Vientiane

3. Arrange on a serving platter, garnish with green leafs and serve with sticky rice, a spicy jeow dish and washed down with a Beerlao or two.

Seb enjoying buffalo laap with sticky rice and a Beerlao
Seb enjoying buffalo laap with sticky rice, washed down with a Beerlao


You can read more about our experiences discovering food in Laos and watch our Laos travel video.


About the author

Hi there! We are Stefan and Sebastien, Greek/French couple behind the travel blog Nomadic Boys. Since we met in 2009, we have been travelling all around the world together, visiting over 100 countries.

Our mission is to inspire you, the gay traveller, and show you that you can visit more places in the world than you thought possible, by providing a first-hand account of our travel adventures, to help you plan a fun and safe trip.

To find out more about us

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