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When Laotians make the jaew bong dip, they often toss in chewy bits of water buffalo skin. Some may consider that optional, however beef jerkey works great in place of the water buffalo skin.
  Vegetable oil 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)
  Chopped ginger 1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs) (chopped finely)
  Garlic 1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs), sliced (peeled)
  Sugar 1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs)
  Dried chile flakes 2 Tablespoon (or to taste)
  Thai fish sauce/Vietnamese fish sauce 1⁄4 Cup (4 tbs)
  Minced beef jerky 1 Tablespoon
  Kaipen sheet 1 , cut in rectangles 2 by 4 inches.

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in skillet. Add ginger, and sauté over low heat until it starts to turn translucent. Add garlic, and stir until golden. Drain well, and spoon ginger and garlic from skillet to mortar. Pound to a paste.

2. Pour off all but thin film of oil from skillet. Add sugar, chili and fish sauce. Cook over very low heat about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves and sauce becomes syrupy. Stir in ginger and garlic and jerky, if using, and cook a minute or so longer to form thick sauce. Check seasoning; add more chili or fish sauce if needed, so that dip is quite spicy with a salty tang. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

3. In clean skillet, heat remaining oil to very hot. Fry kaipen briefly, turning once, until crisp. Fold and place on paper towels to drain. Cool to room temperature, and serve with jaew bong dip.

Recipe Summary

Preparation Time: 
15 Minutes
Cook Time: 
10 Minutes
Ready In: 
25 Minutes
Kaipen is a fresh water moss, sort of a Laotian "seaweed" similiar to Japanese Nori. An ounce of kaipen, about a six-inch square, contains 490 milligrams of sodium, 570 milligrams of potassium and 7 grams of protein. It is also extremely rich in iron and is an excellent source of fiber: that little six-inch square provides 10 grams of fiber and 140 percent of the recommended daily iron requirement. When working with kaipen, it is useful to spread some paper on a countertop and to place a cutting board on top of it, because the sesame seeds tend to scatter about. Use scissors to cut it. Soak for just a few seconds, and then blot the kaipen on paper towels before frying, wrapping, baking or grilling. A half-inch of oil is enough for frying; it should be very hot, almost smoking. Turn the kaipen only once. In Laos, fried squares of kaipen are folded as they are taken out of the pan so they are less fragile for dipping.
Lao "Seaweed" with Chile Dip

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KAIPEN WITH JAEW BONG DIP Recipe, Lao "Seaweed" With Chile Dip