From the heat of sriracha to the fragrant sweetness of vanilla to the “umami” (the hard-to-define, delicious, savory quality) of soy sauce, American diners are craving increasingly bolder flavors. Luckily, exploring the unfamiliar ingredients used by diverse cultures has never been easier thanks to cooking shows, social media, internet recipes or popular dishes served at restaurants. By sharing recipes and techniques, chefs with deep ties to global cuisines can inspire backyard gardeners and home cooks to travel the world without ever leaving home.
Chef Anourom Thomson of Anousone’s Mobile Cuisine came to the United States from Laos as a young boy. While sticking to his Laotian roots, Chef Thomson expanded his knowledge in the culinary realm by working at restaurants in the Kansas City area. Thomson’s prior experience with Anderson Restaurant Group, including his work at the Hereford House and Pierpont’s in Union Station, is what lead him to open up his own food truck. The Laotian cooking style is what the food truck brings to customers, while maintaining Thomson’s goal of producing fresh food.
With bringing Laotian cuisine to America, Thomson prepares food that his mother would prepare for his family back in Laos. He focuses on cooking food that is fresh and good for his customers, avoiding certain components such as butter sauces. For one of his dishes, Chef Thomson uses lemongrass a tropical herb that resembles an ornamental grass and offers a citrus note to flavor a pungent yet deeply delicious fermented fish sauce popular in Laotian cuisine known as padek, a key ingredient used in the spicy green papaya salad tam maak hoong.
“I like to showcase the importance of fresh ingredients and share ways to use them in the kitchen. It’s important in my culture to bring family and friends to the table. Laos may be an underdeveloped country, but we enjoy the daily ritual of sitting down and enjoying a simple, homecooked meal with one another.”
Key garden ingredients: lemongrass, bananas, papaya, Napa cabbage, bok choy, Chinese kale, chile peppers, moringa