Or Bon Waan

(Bon is the name of a plant, but it may be applied either to bon waan - a general name referring to any bon which is sweet and edible-or to bon kan, an itchy or scratchy bon, which should not be eaten since it will cause puffing and itching of the skin. Sweet bon in its cultivated form is taro.)


a piece of three-layer pork, cut into strips about 3 cm thick and 1 cm wide

a handful of bon waan (i.e. presumably a bunch as sold in the market, about five stalks) - peel off the outer skin, but do not wash the bon - if it is dirty, use a clean cloth to remove the dirt

2 pieces of dried buffalo skin - put them in a charcoal fire until they are a bit burned on the outside, then scrape off the burned part, cut the pieces into strips 3 mm wide and soak them in water

3 fresh chilli peppers

2 (small) shallots

Seared the above two ingredients in a charcoal fire, then torn into small pieces

1 mak kawk treated like the chilli peppers and shallots

3 slices of galingale

sa-kahn - cut a section 3 cm long of its (thick) stem, then take off the hard outer skin and divide the section vertically into 10 slices

2 bunches (about 6 sprigs) of dill, washed and chopped

10 jelly mushrooms, washed and divided into small pieces

salt and fish sauce

spring onion leaves, chopped

1 stalk of lemon grass - sear it in a charcoal fire, then wash it and crush it (with the flat of a heavy knife or with a pestle) just enough to bring out the aroma


Put 1 1/2 beakers (3/4 pint) of water in a pot on the fire. Add the following: salt, pork, buffalo skin, sa-kahn, fresh chilli peppers, shallots, lemon grass, galingale and mushrooms. * When the mixture comes to the boil, add the cleaned bon waan, cover the pot and leave it until the bon waan is completely cooked. Then spoon out the bon waan, pound it, add fish sauce to it and return it to the pot. Add the mak kawk and the dill. Taste and check the saltiness. Transfer everything to a serving bowl, garnish it with the chopped spring onion and serve.

The dish should be accompanied by dok nam panya. (This name, which has no English equivalent, refers to CAESALPINIA MIMOSOIDES, and means 'thorny flower of the Panya'. The Thai name is phak pu ya, meaning 'grandparents' vegetable'.)


In cooking Or Bon we must be cautious in selecting the bon, since otherwise the dish would cause itching and would be inedible. Different types of bon waan which are popularly used in cooking for their sweet flavour are:

Bon tao, whose special characteristic is that the leaves are thicker than those of other types; and Bon kan kam, which one can easily recognise by the colour of its leaves and stems - the colour of which is purplish.

Anyway, one should consult those who know these types of bon (before making the dish). As for the common bon with thin leaves, no matter how much people admire its sweet taste, its juice causes itching.

Editors' Notes

* In the Lao text a superfluous sentence appears here, repeating the instruction to put these 'ten ingredients' in. The figure of ten was no doubt reached by counting the water as one ingredient.





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