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[Laos - Lucky "Laap"]

On a business trip during my vacation in May, I visited two countries in Southeast Asia, Thailand and Laos. Laos, located north of Thailand, has 70% of its land area covered by mountains and plateaus, and is the only landlocked country among the 10 ASEAN member countries that does not have a sea. The entire city of Luang Prabang, the ancient capital of Laos, is a World Heritage Site, and was established in 1353 as the Lan Xang Kingdom, the first unified Lao dynasty. Luang Prabang is a city where East and West are beautifully harmonized, with colonial-style architecture from the French Protectorate period.

We walked around the city in a rich time as if the whole city was breathing slowly, and in the evening, we enjoyed Lao cuisine while watching the sun set over the Mekong River. The Lao food was spicier than I expected and had a strong herbal flavor, so every dish was delicious, and I decided that the one I had repeatedly was "laap," which I would definitely make a staple this summer when I returned home.

Laap is the national dish of Laos and is also eaten in the northeastern part of Thailand. It is a dish of minced meat that has been cooked and dressed with herbs and spices. Often eaten at room temperature, the spicy flavor of chili peppers, sourness of lime, fish sauce, and herbs combine perfectly to bring out the umami of the main ingredient, minced meat. In addition to minced pork and chicken, some of the laap we tried were made with buffalo meat and others with fish. Laap is a perfect combination with steamed glutinous rice called khao ngao, which is eaten together or wrapped in leafy greens such as lettuce. It is a simple recipe of chopping, heating, and dressing the ingredients, but I was very surprised at how luxurious the taste is.

After a while since my return to Japan, I tried to make laap at home before the hot summer arrived in earnest. I thought that food from a hot country tastes best when eaten on a hot day, so I decided to learn how to make it before the summer season began. I used minced pork ground a little coarsely like the ones I had there, with plenty of pak choi and mint, and of course, steamed glutinous rice in a seiro for garnish. As soon as I took a bite, I was surprised by the hot, humidity-free wind that blew over my body at the Luang Prabang airport, the thick aroma of the Mekong River along the river, the Laotian beer "Beer Lao" that I drank to toast the joy of life, and many other events came back to me, making my memories of Laos even more vivid. I felt that my memories of Laos became even more vivid and colorful.

The word "laop" is said to be an indispensable dish for celebrations and happy occasions where people gather in Laos, as its pronunciation is similar to the Lao word meaning "good luck" or "happiness. The beautiful custom of sharing delicious food and wishing each other happiness and good luck is found all over the world, and I was very happy to have encountered one of the many such customs in Laos, which I visited this time. Lao "lucky laap". I hope you will enjoy it at home this summer.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
300 g ground chicken, pork, beef, etc.
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 chili peppers (green or red), finely chopped
Small green onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A few leafy greens such as lettuce or Chinese cabbage
Cucumber, as desired
2 tablespoons glutinous rice (rice)
A few sprigs of pak choi
A few sprigs of mint

Seasonings
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons squeezed juice of lime or lemon
A pinch of grated lime or lemon peel
1 teaspoon powdered chili pepper (or a pinch of chili pepper)

How to make:
1. Fry glutinous rice in an ungreased frying pan until golden brown, and grind coarsely in a mortar.
2. Cut the purple onion into thin slices, the Japanese leek into small pieces, and tear the leafy greens into bite-size pieces by hand.
3. In a frying pan, saute the minced meat and finely chopped garlic over high heat until the meat is cooked through.
4. Put 3 in a large bowl, add the glutinous rice, red onion, seasonings, chopped pak choi and mint, mix well and season to taste.
5. Arrange the laap on a plate with leafy greens such as lettuce and Chinese cabbage, and sliced cucumber.

Ichiyougama's Plate
https://www.shokunin.com/en/ichiyou/plate.html
Koishiwara ware's Tobikanna Sansunzara
https://www.shokunin.com/en/koishiwara/mame.html
Tansougama's Slipware Mamezara
https://www.shokunin.com/en/tansou/slipware.html
Wadasuke Seisakusho's Cooking & Serving Spoon S
https://www.shokunin.com/en/wadasuke/spoon.html
Sori Yanagi's Stainless Steel Bowl 23cm
https://www.shokunin.com/en/yanagisori/bowl.html

References
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%A9%E3%82%AA%E3%82%B9
https://www.tourismluangprabang.org/ja/about-luangprabang-2/
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%A9%E3%83%BC%E3%83%97_(%E6%96%99%E7%90%86)
https://travel.asean.or.jp/laos/629/
https://aseanpedia.asean.or.jp/recipe/laab/ (Reference recipe)
『D23 地球の歩き方 ラオス 2024~2025』 地球の歩き方編集室より 「ラオスの食卓 ~豊潤な山と川の幸~」 森卓 著

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[Red Shiso Furikake]

Red shiso is a Japanese herb that has long been cultivated for its juice, pickled plums, and furikake (sprinkled on rice), making it refreshing and invigorating during the rainy season and summer.

The name "Yukari" for red shiso furikake derives from a tanka poem in the Kokin Wakashu, which expresses how just one purple shiso flower in Musashino makes all the grass and flowers there appear lovely: "紫の ひともとゆゑに 武蔵野の 草はみながら あはれとぞ見る" (anonymous poet).

Shiso's distinctive aroma is due to "perillaldehyde," an aromatic ingredient that has strong antiseptic and sterilizing effects, and helps prevent food poisoning. It makes sense that shiso is served with sashimi. Red shiso leaves contain rosmarinic acid and luteolin, which are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that may help control allergy symptoms.

Now, this red shiso furikake seems to be similar in flavor to a spice called sumac, a spice used in Middle Eastern cuisine. Sumac, which means "red," is the dried fruit of the Ruscus coriaria, a member of the poison ivy family. This superfood is high in antioxidants, vitamin C, polyphenols, and flavonoids. It is characterized by a subtle sourness and aroma similar to red shiso, lemon, pickled plum, and tamarind. It is used as it is, sprinkled on vegetables and fish, and locals drink it as a tea to regulate the gastrointestinal tract.

Sumac is an essential spice in the Palestinian chicken dish "musakhan," but it can be substituted with red shiso furikake. Moussachan is a dish made of "taboon bread" (pita bread, pizza dough, or chapatti-like bread) topped with onions sauteed with sumac, Seven Spice, and salt, and roasted chicken thighs with bones. Seven Spice is a seasoning used in the Middle East (although there seem to be regional differences) and is a mixture of pepper, nutmeg, cumin, coriander, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice.

To cook, sliced onions are sauteed thoroughly with sumac, Seven Spice, salt, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. The chicken is also blended with these spices and grilled. Finish with a sprinkling of roasted pine nuts and cilantro. I will substitute the sumac used here with a sprinkle of red shiso. It will be interesting to see how they taste. If you are interested, please try making it.

You can also enjoy handmade furikake of red shiso. It can be made from red shiso juice or pickled red shiso prepared for pickled plums, dried, and ground into a powder using a mortar. Why not incorporate red shiso into your diet during the hot season?

Yamatada Katoen's JUJU mortier Mortar
https://www.shokunin.com/en/yamatada/suribachi.html
Azmaya's Wooden Pestle
https://www.shokunin.com/en/azmaya/surikogi.html
Kiya's Yakumiyose
https://www.shokunin.com/en/kiya/yakumi.html
Hirota Glass's Ultimate Sake Glass
https://www.shokunin.com/en/hirota/nihonshu.html

References
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ゆかり_(ふりかけ)
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/スマック_(植物)
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ムサッハン
https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/シソ
https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/265934/1/aaas_21_146.pdf

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[Rosemary Baths Are Recommended During the Rainy Season]

As we enter the rainy season, I like to take a bath with rosemary in it. The rosemary that I grow on my balcony has spread to fill my flowerpots, so the other day I pruned it a little. I thought it would be a waste to throw away the cut branches, so I put a sprig in the bathtub without much thought, and I became completely addicted to it. First, I soaked myself in the bathtub and rubbed the rosemary leaves well. When I wrapped my face with my hands, not only did the fragrance refresh me, but my skin felt smooth. When I applied rosemary to my head and neck, the migraine headache that had been painful all day was so much easier. After getting out of the bath, I felt refreshed all over my body and felt somewhat lighter. Since then, I have been taking a sprig of rosemary from my balcony and adding it to my bath every night.

Hmmm. Rosemary is amazing! Even though I have been growing rosemary for years, I am ashamed to admit that I didn't know much about its effects, so I looked into rosemary again.

First of all, the name. I wondered why it was called "rose" when it looked and smelled nothing like a rose. In other words, it does not seem to have anything to do with roses. But it is very romantic to have a "drop of the sea" on my balcony. Rosemary has been used since ancient times to ward off evil spirits, for ceremonies, and for cooking. Records of its medicinal use can be found only since the Middle Ages, but it is known to be effective for cooling, promoting digestion, circulatory function, activating nerve cells, promoting blood circulation and lymph flow, relieving rheumatism and migraine headaches, relieving fatigue, and beautifying the skin. The essential oil is excellent in sterilization, and when used as a bath salt, it is effective in healing wounds. I did not know that it had so many effects. I was convinced that the effects I felt in the bath were consistent with rosemary's known benefits.

You can cut it up and put it directly into the bath, but it also seems to be good to put the boiled extract into the bath. In addition, I found many ways to use it during my search, such as soaking it in vodka or white liquor to make a lotion, or in vinegar to make a rinse for soap shampoo. Of course, you can also roast meat with herbs or add them to water to make herbal water.

The rainy season is a time when the humidity and temperature changes can make us feel sluggish, but with the help of familiar plants, we can get through it a little more pleasantly and comfortably. I would like to take this opportunity to try various things this year.

We also carry a Bathing Set that will turn your everyday bathroom into an exquisite Japanese hot spring hotel. Yamaichi, founded in 1973, manufactures these products in Nagisomachi, Nagano Prefecture, using raw Kiso wood that is mainly 100 to 300 years old. The natural wood aroma goes well with the scent of fresh herbs and will provide you with a happy time at the end of the day.

*By the way, rosemary has strong effects and should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers, infants, people with high blood pressure, or people with epilepsy. Also, while the scent of rosemary has a relaxing effect, some people find it uplifting and it makes it difficult to fall asleep, so please use caution when trying it.

Yamaichi's Bathing Set
https://www.shokunin.com/en/yamaichi/yuami.html

References
https://ja.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%AD%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BA%E3%83%9E%E3%83%AA%E3%83%BC
https://www.weleda.jp/wordpress/about/lead-plants/rosemary/