Dishin’: Laab, #83a (yes, the one with tripe)


North of Seattle, in Lynnwood, is the restaurant Kirirom. Lurking low in the shadows of the big box stores, the chain restaurants, and the Alderwood Mall, Kirirom means “mountain of joy” and is a national park in Cambodia.

Perusing the picturesque menu, we really wanted to order the Chocolate Rice Soup, but Seattlest’s dining companions just weren’t biting on it. Guess they don’t see the humor in calling organ meats “chocolate.” We’re still not sure what it’s all about, but we’ll find out another time. So still wanting our daily dose of offal, our eyes wandered past plain ol’ Chicken Laab (#83 on the menu) and lit up at #83a: Laab made with chicken and beef tripe.

Laab is a Southeast Asian regional dish made from shredded, thinly sliced or minced meat (raw or cooked) combined with chili, mint, fish sauce and lime. The Cambodian version we tried included toasted rice, lettuce, cabbage, cucumbers, bell peppers and cilantro. We scoured the Internet and found this pictorial recipe (which includes instruction to “pull your hair back in a bun”).

While we had a few other dishes of interest (including chaa lout with its worm-like noodles, and a sour duck soup), the Laab was by far our favorite. It had the most complexity, with sweet, sour, salty and spicy singing out in perfect harmony. But beyond the taste, the dish had texture – largely due to the tripe. Have we had a bad dish with tripe in it? We’re convinced tripe’s is a can’t-go-wrong ingredient, soaking up flavors and giving its textural gift with every bite. As tempted as we were to order that Chocolate Rice Soup for dessert, the Laab was a fine way to end the meal; from one stomach to our own, a mound of tripe will always be our mountain of joy.

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on September 21, 2007.

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