During our work in Northern Thai province of Chiang Rai last month, we had some time to sample the local delicacies. Now for those not familiar with Chiang Rai, it is the northen most part of Thailand if I’m not mistaken bordering Laos and Burma commonly known as the Golden Triangle before a high influence on the trade of opium. Now it’s a great tourist attraction for those who like nature since Chiang Rai is still quite quiet and peaceful. With being so close to many other countries I think the food is largely influenced as well. There is quite an Muslim population here which is why many spices not normally seen in Traditional Thai Cooking plays a huge role here.
The usual laarb or minced por, chicken or beef yam or thai salad is usually, fish sauce, lime, int, roasted rice, shallots, spring onions, thai basil and chillies. It’s spicy and fresh and sour. However the Northern Larb is more heavy on the non traditional spices, i think cumin, saltier not sour version. I feel it’s a more dry and meatier version. I’m not sure of all the spices but it feels more indianish than thai.
The Sai Oua or northern thai sausage is not different, the meats and pork fats are chunkier and loosely packed not minced sasages like we are used too. I’m sure there is cumin or tumeric present in here, chunks of lemongrass, thai basil, chillies and other herbs. It’s hot, meaty and very very flavorful. You can taste all the spices, saltiness, porkiness of the entire mouthful. It’s fantastic served with sticky rice and some side veggies. Not to be missed when travelling there!