Laos – Mok Pa

by Fauzan Anandika

Laos, one of the Southeast Asian countries, has a different food staple from the other countries in the area. While other countries eat rice as their food staple, Laos people eat sticky rice. Galangal and fish sauce become important seasoning in Laos culinary. They create a dish base on fresh food availability in each region. Some of the dish influence by France culinary as we can see, many food stalls sell baguettes. 

When visiting Laos, you can see their unique cookware. They cook in a stove that looks like a bucket called tao-lo and a pan called maw khang. Their main staple, sticky rice in a cane work bamboo called huad, then put it into a boiler called maw nung. In every house, you can see a big mortar for mixing ingredients and other food called khok.

Similar to other Southeast Asia, Laos use various spice to create flavourful taste. Galangal, lime, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and basil leaves are their main spice. And what makes Laos food unique, they use banana leaves for wrapping the food before steamed or grilled. Using banana leaves give unique aroma into the dish like one of their dish called Mok Pa. 

Mok Pa is a fish steam dish wrap with banana leaves, seasoned with lemongrass, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and onions leaves. Mok Pa best serves with steamed sticky rice and fish sauce dip. For those who haven’t eat Southeast Asian food, you can feel the unique texture, smoothness, and rich taste.

To cook Mok Pa, you need to find wide-shape banana leaves, the other ingredient relatively easy to find. So what are you waiting for? Grab your cookware, and let’s start cooking some Mok Pa.

This recipe is for six pieces Mok Pa.


  • 50 grams kaffir lime leaf, chopped smoothly
  • 50 grams bay leaves, finely chopped
  • 3 onions leave, finely sliced
  • 750-gram tilapia fillet, cut into 3 cm size
  • Banana leaves cut into 30 x 30 cm size. Make 15 of them
  • Toothpicks

Ground spice

  • 12 shallot
  • 8 sheet of lime leaves
  • 6 cayenne pepper
  • 3 lemongrass, use only the white part, sliced
  • 2 tablespoon sticky rice, soak for 20 minutes.
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon sugar

Sticky rice ingredient

  • 500-gram white sticky rice grain
  • 250 ml of coconut milk
  • 3 sheet Pandan leaves
  • ½ teaspoon Salt 

Sticky rice preparation

  1. Soak sticky rice grain for 30 minutes.
  2. Steam sticky rice for 15 minutes.
  3. Cook coconut milk with Pandan leaves and salt until boiling.
  4. Turn off the heat, add steamed sticky rice, mix well. Wait for 15 minutes.
  5. Steam again for 30 minutes. 

How to cook

  1. Mix and blend ground spice with kaffir lime leaf, bay leaf, and onion leaves.
  2. Add fish, mix well, and freeze it for 30 minutes.
  3. Pick two banana leaves, place two tablespoon fish mixture in the center, and fold into a pyramid shape.
  4. Seal it with toothpicks. Do the same for the rest mixture.
  5. Steam for one hour.
  6. Mok Pa ready to serve with a side of sticky rice.
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