Freezing Fresh Lao Food Ingredients

imageWe live on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, 25 miles from the nearest Asian grocery store in Exeter. The fresh ingredients only get delivered once a week, so even when you do get to the shop you have to be quick.  Many a time I’ve found myself staring glumly at empty shelves as other enthusiastic cooks have got there before me and bought up all the best stuff.  If you see something rare, like a banana flower bud (not often in the weekly deliveries) you have to pounce.

I freeze fresh herbs and vegetables that I consider hold their flavour successfully. Freezer burn, caused by dehydration and oxidation, can be a problem.  Freezer bags don’t stop dehydration so I wrap them well in freezer containers with tight lids to prevent it. I use old padded (with bubble wrap padding) envelopes to store banana leaves and lime leaves.

Delicate leaf herbs don’t freeze well as their cell membranes get broken down by ice-crystals and they turn to sludge when you defrost them (experiment with lettuce for fun!). Larger vegetables and roots can go rubbery too, so are best avoided.

Best frozen sliced placed in a container and used as necessary

Galangal and ginger

Lemongrass

Banana Bud

Fine in a container

Pea aubergines

Coriander root

Thai Finger root

Coconut milk

Curry paste

Padded envelope

Lime leaves

Banana leaves

In ‘Traditional Recipes of Laos’ Phia Sing often calls for a small ball of pork mince or pork back fat. As I tend not to have these in the fridge I freeze them in small portions too.image