Watercress, something we think of as being so cool-climate British, grows effortlessly and in quantity in Luang Prabang’s vegetable plots. It’s one of their best-loved leaves, just like it is ours. It’s their dressing that makes this wondrous - the mix of toasted garlic oil and creamed egg yolk. A splosh of the old soy sauce is good in it too. Swap the cucumber for sliced Asian pear, if you know where to get it: very Laos.
To make the dressing, fry the garlic in the oil until it turns a nut brown (but don’t scorch it, otherwise it will turn bitter), then leave the oil to go cold. Next, add the remaining dressing ingredients to the garlic oil and pound or beat together until the liquids have homogenized with the egg yolks. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed.
To assemble the salad, slice the egg whites into halves or quarters, then pile with the remaining ingredients into shallow bowls or on to plates, then spoon over the garlic and egg dressing.
© 2004 Alastair Hendy. All rights reserved.