I am Lao

Wow! I can’t believed I used to eat these weird looking insects!


Recently, I saw this music video, “I am Lao” that reminded me of all the delicious food I ate growing up.  My mom is an exceptional cook.  I would be so bold as to say she is more talented than a mere cook, she is truely amazing  when it comes to food.  Everything she makes is fantastic.  Everybody loves her cooking. I am excited about her upcoming visitation so I can eat some of my favorite Lao food.

My mom has many specialities from pho, to chicken salad to different sauces. One of the things we ate was chail( sauce) cicada.  The only bad part was we, the kids had to go captured the cicada from people’s houses! My siblings and I along with other Laotian teenagers and adults would grab our bags when it was dark, and when we could hear the cicada buzzing. We headed out the door with our flash lights and plastic bags to go in search of our prey. Of course, we would start with our own front yard then head out to the rest of the neighborhood.  Looking back now, I’m surprised we didn’t get arrested for trespassing on people’s properties. I guess it also helped that we knew almost everybody in the neighborhood because all the kids played together. At first I was extremely embarrassed at the start of my cicada hunting career because I was a teenager who still cared what others think. So, when my friends first asked what we were doing with the cicada, I didn’t even know what lie to tell them.  I can’t very well tell them it was for a science experiment because we all went to the only high school in town and they know what exactly goes on in class.  As for saying it was for a bug collection, that wouldn’t work either since we had our bags stuffed with them. In the end, I was forced to tell the truth: we eat them! Strangely, most of our friends in the neighborhood did not freak out as much as I thought they would.  Once they got over the bit of news that we love to eat it, some of the kids even helped us hunt the cicada.

So here is the rough recipe of my mom’s chail cicada.  My memory is a little faulty, but I’m pretty sure this is what she put in it. The first thing is to roost the locus, thai pepper, and a head of yellow onion in the oven. Once all that is cooked, smash the thai pepper in the coke (stone grinder used for papaya salad)  then throw in the cooked locust and some of the yellow onion.  Mashed everything up then throw in some padek, fish sauce, and msg. When it comes to Lao food, we don’t really use measurements like teaspoons or tablespoon as much as in American cooknig because we season our food according to our taste.


5 thoughts on “I am Lao

  1. this is just too interesting. i have zero urges to eat those things now but when i was about 6-7 (and in America), i use to fight over them!!! thanks for writing this… brings back too many memories…

  2. Laotian Teacher

    I know I don’t have the urge to eat it now because they do look kind of gross alive! It’s funny what you said about fighting over it because we did too! I’m glad to know that other Lao people ate it too.

  3. I know just want you mean . But hey i’m still going to that shiit again. Wish to visit Isan again soon. let me know if any of your want to share memories . Also about go to people yard just to catch cicada. I use to do that too.

  4. jan

    Recently I was in Luang Prabang. On the banks of the Mekong to the north I saw a young girl on the rivers edge. She had a long stick with lots of sharp spikes poking out from it. She seemed to be beating the bushes and then picking things off the spikes and putting them in a plastic shopping bag. It was about 10 a.m.
    Would these have been locusts?

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