Papaya is available in Laos throughout the whole year and is commonly used in a plenty of dishes. Undoubtedly, the most popular is papaya salad, which is called "Tam Mak Houng" in Lao. Some argue that this meal is originally from Thailand, but both countries have different recipes, and the Lao version is a bit spicier and sour.
This salad consists mainly of shredded papaya, mixed with lemon juice, fish sauce, pepper, and other spices. When served, it can be garnished with pork rind and cabbage leaves on the side which is used as makeshift spoons.
Papaya salad is sold by many street vendors and served in cafes, but you can find the greatest variety during the mid-April celebration of Lao New Year.