Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted (2019) s01e05 Episode Script

The Mighty Mekong of Laos

This is one of the best foods in the forest.
- What is it? - Ant larvae.
- That's it there? - That's it.
Okay, so it looks like a bit of a coconut from here.
You've got to give it a good shake.
I've been shopping for eggs before, but not quite like this.
They're sharp.
And it's raining with ants everywhere here.
This is the 4000 Island Region
of the Mekong River in southern Laos.
And the Mekong is the life blood
of this incredible landlocked country.
What an amazing place.
Running from north to south,
the mighty Mekong is Laos' backbone.
Part highway, part water supply
and crucially a vital source of food,
which I'm told is bloody delicious.
Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing.
But from what I've heard,
trying to get my hands on this amazing food won't be easy.
Laotians go to extreme lengths to source their ingredients.
And I'm here to learn their secrets.
My adventure begins in the deep south,
on the banks of the Khone Falls.
I'm meeting a chef who I hope
can give me the lowdown on Laos cuisine.
And after all that paddling, I'm hoping he's laid on lunch.
- Good to see you. - Hi, good to see you.
Likewise. What an amazing river!
Yeah, it is.
With one of the top‐rated restaurants in the country,
Joi Ngueamboupha is passionate about Laos food.
celebrating its unique blend of flavors
that can't be found anywhere else in the world.
First of all, an absolute pleasure
because you've helped put Laos cuisine on the map.
I'm dying to get to understand for the Laos cuisine.
Wow, that's incredible.
What is he doing over there? That crazy man.
I mean, not the safest place to fish.
Because very strong water?
So that the fish more tasty.
So by fighting the current they get a little bit more tastier?
More tasty and more exercise.
More exercise?
More exercise.
And so there's a big difference between fish being
caught down here than there is over the other side of the rapids?
It's just so dangerous, he's almost like on the edge of the rock.
- Me? - Yeah.
It's dangerous, right?
Not really.
Not really.
Yeah, I beg to differ.
Khone Falls are the widest in the world.
And 2.5 million gallons of water
crash over these rocks every second.
I was hoping for lunch, but this wasn't what I had in mind.
What in the hell are we doing?
You sure this will take my weight, Joy?
Yeah, I'm sure, yeah.
Where are we going? Man.
Local fisherman Mr. Senchan has been risking his life, sorry,
catching these prized Mekong fish for decades.
Joy, these fish better taste delicious!
This is crazy.
Traditional cast net fishing
has been practiced for thousands of years.
But I've just minutes to get the hang of it.
Hand there.
Hold, Happy? Really?
This is not a good idea.
Oh, come on!
I'll tell you what, they make it look so easy
but there is nothing easy in this.
That's an edgy place to fish.
It's the force of that water inches away from you.
And one slip and you're gone.
Joy, this time we're going to catch something.
Yes! Here we go.
Pull it in!
Yeah, nothing.
There's got to be an easier way of catching fish here, surely.
Come on!
- What? - Yeah, he's caught
So you're telling me it's not the right time of day?
Holy .
Joy, there's no joy in this!
Thankfully Mr. Senchan takes pity on me
and kindly shares his morning catch.
Oh my God. And was that here?
Look at those beauties. They are gorgeous.
Right, let's go eat some before we get killed!
Now this is a traditional way of cooking this, right?
Yes, yes.
You usually in Laos people,
like every weekend with friends we go to fishing,
maybe barbecue along the river.
And you wrap that in a banana leaf.
Yes, with a bamboo skewer.
And also inside we stuff with lemon grass.
That smells incredible.
Before his culinary calling, Joy spent seven years as a monk.
I learn a lot and also in the temple I learn a lot about food.
Do you think that's
why you wanted to become a chef as a monk?
And still today the monks are highly respected.
Yes. In the next few days I'm going to cook for the temple
if you would like to help me.
Wow, you want me to cook?
- Yes. - For the monks?
- Yes. - At the temple?
Joy's set me a mission to cook for the monks.
They are a, it's almost like royalty here.
The monks at Wutcontai temple, like monks all over Laos,
rely on the generosity of their neighbors to eat.
Though money is tight,
locals prepare daily feasts for them
in the hope of receiving a blessing.
Look at that.
Oh yes, that's come out beautiful.
Man, that fish is so soft.
I'm dying to taste that.
Cooking for such highly esteemed guests will be a real challenge.
But Joy tells me there's an added twist.
The scary thing for me is that it needs to be served at 11,
because after midday they cannot eat until the following morning.
So, I've got my work cut out.
That's so delicious.
I've less than a week to get to grips with Laos cuisine
and prepare a feast at the temple.
I'm not saint, so to boost my karma credit rating,
I have to make sure I nail it.
That is really delicious, thank God.
Because that is the most dangerous fish I've ever helped catch.
So, with the challenge set, I'm hitting the river.
Along the bank of the Mekong,
the rice paddies yield all manner of surprising delicacies
for the self‐sufficient locals.
So Joy's friend Utah has brought me to meet
rice farmer Mr. Ten and his family,
How are you? You good?
Nice to see you. Hello.
What kinds of foods are you sourcing from here?
Because I see the river that side and the paddy fields that side.
- Frogs. - Frogs.
- Toe bites. - Hold on, toe bites, as in?
Toe bites,
- the one that basically bite your toes. - Insects that bite your toes?
Yes, exactly.
Yes, all yummy.
- All yummy? - All yummy.
Amazing. Amazing, amazing, amazing.
Let's go. Toe biters, what size are these things?
The rice fields are only a short walk away,
but like men around the world,
Mr. Ten loves to show off his souped‐up ride.
I feel like I'm on my granddad's lawnmower
with half my grandma's washing machine in front.
- Good comparison. - What a contraption.
This is his custom‐built iron buffalo
and he's letting me take the reins.
How do we start?
Cycling. Oh, there's a string for the speed.
Okay, so that's the acceleration pedal?
That's right, yeah. Acceleration pedal.
That's slow and that's fast?
You pull this up first, so after this.
Oh okay, so that's like the handbrake and this is the gear.
- Exactly. - And seatbelts?
No, I'm joking.
We ready?
Let's go.
Let's go, captain.
Kids, buffaloes, frogs, get out the way!
Oh my God. Oh my God!
Slowly, slowly, slowly!
This may not be the safest ride,
but I definitely feel safer
than the people walking in front of me.
Oh jeez.
Oh man. Oh man.
Stop, stop. Stop, stop, go around. Stop, stop!
This thing's a death trap.
- Oh man. - Man.
On my quest to discover the best local food
to serve at a feast for monks,
Mr. Ten leads me to a field
that he assures me is full of Laos delicacies.
He's looking for toe biters.
Life here is tough.
Some families survive on just $5 a day.
So foraging for insects provide much needed protein, flavor
and if you're not careful, flesh wounds.
Here's one, here's one here!
Oh, careful he's going to bite you!
They're sharp, those things.
Can you get him?
Here's one here.
Look at that, the size of them.
And what do they do? Boil them, grill them?
Barbecue first and then make a dipping sauce.
Hey, another one.
Oh, you're good.
They're like large beetles.
Oh, man!
What was that?
What was that?
A beetle.
Man, they're fast, these little bugs are.
Frog! Mr. Ten!
Bloody hell.
Look at him, huh, he's beautiful.
Is he too small to eat?
Too small?
While Mr. Ten takes the toe biters back to the kitchen
Me in that one?
- Yes. - Oh man, really?
His sons take me out on the river.
Now at 210 pounds I just hope I don't sink this thing.
The Mekong is the second most bio-diverse river in the world.
It's full of fish that I failed to net,
but it's also filled with delicious snails.
Finally, prey I'm fast enough to catch!
This place is beautiful.
So, where are they?
- Underneath the weeds? - Underneath, yeah.
- Okay, great. Let's go! - I'm not going!
- You're not going? - No, I'm staying here.
- Why? - Just in case I have to rescue you.
In case you have to what?
Rescue you!
Rescue me?
- Yes. - Woo, that's fresh.
It's a strong current.
In these strong currents
I look less like Michael Phelps
and more like Michael Palin.
It's a lot harder than you think, right?
It is, it is.
It's not easy to put food on the table in this country.
Caught one!
Oh, well done.
Look at those.
How are you getting so many in one hand?
Further in front.
Got another one.
- Oh, what's that? Is it a clam? - It looks like a clam.
A clam, yeah. Wow, well done.
This is going to take me all bloody day!
I mean, just look at that, they're small.
Let's just hope they're tasty.
I've done over 500 dives,
that dive was one of the most difficult
because you can't dive in a meter and a half of water
when you've got a current that strong.
After a hard day's graft,
Mr. Ten and his family teach me
how they cook toe biters using traditional bamboo skewers.
And then through.
How many times a week would you eat these?
Once a week?
Once a week, yeah.
So it's regarded as a delicacy?
Yes. Turn it up.
So you grill them over the charcoal?
- Yes. - Amazing.
- Remove the wing. - Right.
Just that?
Here we go.
Crunchy, chewy.
That actually tastes almost like a,
sort of the inside of a lobster carcass.
It's very sweet. That's delicious. Really good.
They don't look appetizing, but my God, get inside that head,
it's like a sort of cross between a sweet lobster and a crab meat.
And yeah, packed with protein.
Big surprise. Amazing. Snails.
Ah, look, he's got one there.
Thank you. Amazing.
Roll that up tight.
It's like a snail lettuce roll.
Snail roll, yeah.
How's it?
- Okay? - It's delicious. Better than okay.
These snails are very meaty.
So not only do we harvest the most amazing rice,
but we've got this bounty of ingredients
that is expensive protein, because they taste delicious.
The effort it takes to create just one meal here is humbling.
At home we have snails with garlic butter,
fancy tongs and stupid shells.
This is delicious.
I'd love to serve some of these critters to the monks,
but I'd be here all week catching them.
And there just isn't time.
It's just 48 hours into the Monk's banquet,
and I've still got a lot to learn.
So, I'm heading to a remote village
where I've heard there's a forest that packs a punch of flavors.
I was given two travel options.
I drive down a dirt road that would take hours,
or a short cut.
This is the short cut.
Good morning.
- Great to meet you. - Likewise, but good to see you.
- Excellent yeah. - What an amazing place.
It really is.
Australian adventurer, Mick O'Shea,
has been exploring this region for decades.
He's promised to get me there in one piece.
How difficult is that going to be?
There's certainly some challenges.
We've got some very strong whirl‐pools.
You don't want to swim here.
Mick tells me the locals call these falls the spirit trap.
After the demons believed to be caught beneath these rapids.
Man I have it fast down there.
And, I'm beginning to understand why.
Now generally we want to stay in the middle, okay.
Because, along the edge the water's very fast.
You don't really want to get scraped along the rocks.
There's whirl‐pools downstream, 200 meters down there, they,
they can suck one, someone down for quite a few seconds.
Right, right.
If that happens,
you've really just got to focus on holding your breath.
The, the currents are so strong that swimming against
any sort of current here it's a losing battle.
How are you feeling about this?
Yeah, a little bit nervous.
If your adrenaline wasn't pumping now,
I'd be a bit worried.
I'd probably wouldn't want you going down there.
Because this is a serious undertaking.
The things I do for food.
Alright, let's do it.
Thank you.
A bit nervous.
Are you ready Gordon?
- Yes sir. - On three. One! Two! Three!
Are you ready, Gordon?
Yes, sir.
On three. One! Two! Three!
Lean over, lean over left. Lean left, lean left.
That's good. Keep leaning left.
But, keep leaning left.
When Mick said, "Do you want to take a short cut to the forest",
I didn't realize that meant risking life and limb.
Okay, straighten up, straighten up.
Straighten up, back on the left, back on the left.
Paddle forward.
Keep that angle.
Keep more to the left.
But, given the extremes I've experienced so far in this country,
I shouldn't have been surprised.
Excellent. Paddle straight.
Straighten up! Straighten up!
More to the left.
Nailed it.
- Honestly. - That was cool hey.
That was insane.
You done a great job there Gordon.
- Well done, mate. - Oh boy!
Great work, hey!
That was insane.
Magical, brilliant, but it's tough in there.
I'm just hoping that this village, you know,
is going to deliver some magic.
Because that was a journey and a half.
Back on dry land, it's into the
Ban Han Cong Forest for a lesson on Laos flavors.
Oh man, this is deep now.
But of course, adrenaline junkie, Mick,
insists on another dodgy short cut.
It's not going to take you and I.
Exactly. I think we spread, space ourselves out.
I mean, really?
Just watch that next bit Gordon, it's like a little bit wobbly.
What is wrong with you?
Here we are. This is, this is the village.
- We're here? - Yep.
People in the isolated village of Han Cong Noi,
rely on the Forest to survive.
Hey, Mr. Muang.
How are you? How are you?
Oh hang on.
Mr. Muang is Laos answer to Daniel Boone.
I'm hoping his knowledge of forest flavorsee
can inspire a winning menu
for the discerning Monks.
You have the most amazing garden.
It's almost like this perfect market, stroke, supermarket.
Wait till you see Mr. Muang out in the forest man. He's amazing.
That's incredible.
It is beautiful in here. Really beautiful.
- Looks like a bay leaf. - It does.
- That's bitter, isn't it? - Mm, it is, it is.
A lot of ingredients in Laos food,
- which, on their own, you wouldn't enjoy. - No.
But by balancing them with other flavors it really changes it.
Yeah. That's incredible.
Those leaves, yeah, quite juicy inside.
But very sour. Yeah, pretty remarkable.
- What's that? - That's rohtang.
It's covered in horrific thorns.
You've got to be really careful working with this stuff.
It's quite a fibrous, sweet, flesh underneath.
So we're eating the center of it?
- Yes, exactly. - Bloody hell. Thank you.
A bit off, that's it. Yep.
It's almost like a heart of palm.
Exactly, that's basically what it is.
In Europe we forage for mushrooms, vegetables.
This is taking foraging to a completely new level.
I mean, every 2 or 3 meters there's something different.
A leaf, a flower.
It is like a garden of Eden,
because everything you touch, pick, you can eat.
What's the next aisle?
Ah, you're going to like this Gordon.
This is one of the best foods in the forest.
Ant larvae.
- Ants larvae? - Yep, yep, yep.
They actually have a citrus flavor.
So, I'll see, you know, it's a bit like having, like, lemon juice
or lime juice sprinkled over protein.
But, where are they?
They're actually up in the trees. These ants, like they sew the
leaves together and make a nest in the trees.
Alright, he's asked if you can give him a hand.
So, it's definitely a two‐man job.
That piece of bamboo is probably like 10 meters long.
Come on Gordi.
- That's it there. - That's it.
I can release it?
Get under it. You've got to give it a good shake.
Oh, it's like shaking the ants into the basket.
- We want to take the best out. - That's right.
it's raining with ants everywhere here.
Well, the thing with these ants, right, is that when they're grumpy
they excrete acid, so they bite your skin
and then they squirt the equivalent of lime juice into it.
They're sharp.
Watch out. My eggs! My eggs! Don't break my eggs.
Oh no, no, it's alright.
I've been shopping for eggs before, but not quite like this.
I'm constantly impressed
by the lengths these Laotians will go to for food.
Risking a hail storm of aggressive fighting ants,
just to add a little citrus flavor to their foods.
That's wild.
What an amazing little kitchen this is.
Isn't it?
Mr. Muang's daughter's show me how these ants
spice up a Tom kha phak soup.
And face the question every chef asks in the kitchen.
Can I help?
In the pestle there she's got, chili, lime, and salt.
What an amazing kitchen you have here.
And any chance we can turn the air‐condition on?
I don't even think they'd know what you're talking about.
Electricity arrived in this region just 10 years ago.
But most people still use
traditional charcoal stoves which have two settings.
Hot and hot.
And so, they are the, that's the ants?
That's your annex, yeah, yeah, mixed in with the ants.
They're delicious. They look like little maggots.
They pretty much are.
So, we're going to finish the soup with the ants.
Yes, that's right.
A bunch of those herbs that we've collected in the forest.
A bunch of them are in that soup already.
That's incredible.
Ah, so we've got coriander and spring onions in there.
So, put it all in she said.
Ants! I mean, they had this citrus flavor of a,
almost like little tiny particles of a lime and a lemon.
And they were finishing the soup with that.
I think it's delicious. Delicious.
Had this zesty, sort of, you know, freshness to the soup.
Really good.
And do the men cook in the village?
In this village only the girls cook.
Trust me this is hard work.
I'm a Cook.
Taste buds are on fire.
I think I'm starting to lay those,
those foundations of Laos food.
The finishing of the herbs.
The chili's, it's sour.
A touch of sweetness in there as well.
If you told me a week ago I'd be making Ant Soup,
I'd have said, "You're crazy".
But it will make a great addition to the menu
for the Monks in a couple of days' time.
After surviving cast net fishing,
extreme rapids, toe biters, and stinging ants,
today I'm embracing the Laotian saying, "Please don't rush".
So, with that in mind, I'm heading to Don Tan Island
to sample a local liquor known as Lao‐Lao.
Wow, look at those?
They're chilling out.
They're on holiday.
Cafe owner Nang, is taking me to meet a local whisky maker.
She has two important jobs today.
Translator and drinking buddy.
We know this moonshine is super strong, right?
- Yeah. - Okay. So, not to be drunk during the day.
A little sip in the evening, right?
Local people are here every morning. 7:00 A. M.
Like, one shot. Two shot.
- 7:00 A. M.? - Yeah.
- Oh dear. - For breakfast.
- Work hard. Be happy. And drink moonshine. - Yeah.
Yeah, yeah.
Thank you, Gordon.
- Where is the man? - Just here.
This is Mister Sin, the Moonshine man.
Mr. Sin. Nice to see you.
This is Gordon. He's from London.
How long has he been making Moonshine?
More than 20 year he said.
- 20 years. Wow! - Yeah.
But look at that coming through.
I'd been warned,
this local hooch can top out at around 120 proof.
Oof, it smells very strong.
Given how extreme everything I've experienced in Laos is,
I hope this won't make me blind.
Yeah, try it.
Oof, it smells very strong.
So far, I've risked life and limb
on my culinary adventure in Laos.
But now, I risk my reputation as a proud Scotsman,
and sample some local rice whisky.
This is what I was born for.
Yeah, try it.
Oh, me? Okay.
Are you trying to kill me?
This one is the
My lips are numb.
Forget the monks.
It's almost forced me into a vow of silence.
Imported liquor is far too expensive for most Laotian people.
So, they get their hard stuff from Mr. Sing,
Laos answer to Jack Daniel's.
Apologize about the white legs.
We don't get much sunshine in Scotland.
Only slightly whiter than my legs,
the sticky rice has a high starch content,
the perfect base for whisky.
Onto the table.
After it's steamed and washed, yeast is added,
and it's fermented for several days.
If I was to make Moonshine like this in the Highlands of Scotland,
you'd get me put into prison.
Whose that shouting?
He come to buy the Laos whisky, the Moonshine.
He wants Moonshine?
Hello, I have some.
You got some ready?
That's the Moonshine in here?
How much?
- 50,000 kip, it's like $6. - $6.
As well as making the Moonshine,
Mr. Sing appears to run the local Drive‐through,
Hello Sir.
Brewed by the finest.
Good to see you.
Nice to see you.
A little taste? A little sample?
Very good he say. Very good.
50,000 kip. Enjoy.
Take care.
And just when you thought things couldn't get any more bonkers!
What is that?
That is gecko and a herb.
You marinated the geckoes in whisky?
My friend make it.
No! No‐oh‐oh! No‐oh‐hoh!
Those poor bastards.
I put vanilla in my spirits.
You put geckoes.
You can try.
Yeah, very good.
That actually tastes better.
Yeah, no, it's good.
- Eat more. - It's very sweet.
Yeah, come from the herb and we make some special herb this one,
but it's secret.
- Secret herbs. - Secret.
With geckoes, inside. But the flavor is extraordinary.
Mr. Sing, thank you.
You are a true legend.
Yeah, it's nice.
Thank you. Man, those poor geckoes.
How can you do that to them? They are our pets in England.
I'm not sure serving paint stripper to the monks tomorrow
will earn me good karma.
But, if I burn off the alcohol,
I reckon it will make a heavenly banana flambé.
Now that's a sunrise.
Yeah, well it's beautiful.
That is beautiful.
It switches the light on, on the Mekong doesn't it?
It lights it up.
It's Feast Day and I'm back with Chef Joi,
and in Laos the early bird catches the worm.
Then probably puts it in whisky.
- The pressure's on to get everything -Yeah.
- bought, cooked, served. - Yeah.
We want to have some happy monks today.
Yeah, yeah.
We need fish.
And because the monks have to eat early,
before my kids are usually out of bed,
Joi decides the only option is to buy it.
Amazing. Look at that.
I mean that is literally on the river bank.
These two are beautiful, right?
- Yeah, beautiful, catfish. - They look great.
- Yeah. - Look at the colors of those.
Yeah, shall we get two of them?
Thank you. They're beautiful aren't they.
What do they cost altogether?
40,000 Kip.
A steal. At just $5.
That's good yeah? Shall we carry on.
Thank you.
With more ingredients still to get,
we've got to crack on, to not be late for the Monks.
So, it's pedal to the metal,
or not?
I do think I can walk quicker than this taxi.
The daily Nagazon market
is packed full of incredible Mekong produce.
Look at these fish here.
Fermented fish?
It smells amazing.
Soup, yeah.
That's delicious.
- Yeah. - That's really delicious.
Everything is not just only super fresh,
but no one's using refrigeration.
No, no, no.
That's the reason why we got everything.
Get everything fermented and, fresh fermented, yeah.
Fermented fish.
I mean, what a great way of finishing those stews.
It's all starting to make sense, cause here's like the heartbeat.
I've seen it all come into one little zone now.
How amazing all this is.
Yes, the Bok Choy.
Do you know they grow it along the Mekong?
- This is grown on the Mekong as well? - Yeah, yeah.
We've collected all our ingredients,
and there's just time for a little
pick‐me‐up before we cook.
I was hoping for a quick coffee,
but Joi wants me to try the local stimulant, beetle nut.
Take that leaf and you put the beetle nut in.
So, this beetle nut, they grow along the river bank.
Okay. Again, so much alongside the river.
Yes. And
They say when you are chewing it, that it makes you feel dizzy.
Why would you chew that if you're going to feel dizzy?
Because it's got tobacco in it.
- Tobacco? - Yeah.
- So, you roll this up. - Yeah.
You ready?
- Ready. One - Two. Three.
Sorry. No, No No!
The locals may love the beetle nut for a quick pick-me-up.
Why did you make me do that?
But, the only time I'll pick it up again
is to toss it in the nearest bin.
Having survived my partial poisoning,
it's time to face the day's real challenge.
Using everything I've learned this week
to cook for the monks of Wok Cong Thai Temple.
This looks amazing.
Yes. Beautiful temple.
More revered than royalty,
these guys are used to the cream of this country's cuisine.
We're up against it time wise, right?
Yeah, yes.
And, as they start fasting at mid‐day,
I've got just two hours to prepare my feast,
and lay it before them.
This is it. Everything I've understood.
Got up to speed with this week.
It all comes down to this.
Hey, how difficult are the monks?
Are they, like, food critics?
Yeah. Some, some of them.
Every time I get to cook for a festival, royalty, monks,
trust me, there's always those nerves,
so, it's going to be a tough one this morning.
The cat fish stew, okay?
My main dish is a sweet and sour fish stew,
inspired by Mr. Muang's daughters.
So nice, using fish this fresh.
And, my trip to the market.
- I'll use a fermented fish sauce. - Yes, fermented fish sauce.
To give that the sort of nice fermented sour flavor
at the base of this catfish stew.
I'm also going to put a touch of tamarind in that as well.
Ah, nice. Get rid of the sour texture.
The sour texture, that's right.
Joi is also cooking a catfish main course.
And for his sauce, he's really branching out.
Are you really chopping wood to put in the soup?
Yes, come look over.
You've gone barking mad.
- Yeah. - But what does the wood do to the soup?
It get the bit of shake on pepper texture.
- Okay. - Make your mouth numb and tingly.
Very interesting.
And, by interesting I mean, really freaking weird.
But right now, I can't afford to get distracted.
So we now close to 10:00, so we've got about an hour.
Why can't we just spend one day here
eating at 2:00 p.m. in the afternoon.
Just give us a bit more time.
But telephone the chief Monk.
Right, catfish stew done.
- Need chili. - Need chili?
Yeah, a bit more chili, a bit of tamarind.
Yeah. There's me thinking it's too hot.
It's too soury.
And he's saying more chili.
I mean, unbelievable.
While I chop some more chili for my stew,
Joi's onto his second course.
What do you do with the lemon grass?
I'm spreading the lemon grass to stuff the fish inside.
Fish wrapped in intricate lemon grass parcels.
Except for the fact that I'm behind, and Joi needs my kitchen.
Do you want to borrow my fryer?
Yes, yes, please.
Now, you're treating me like I'm your sous chef now.
Yes, yes.
I thought you were sort of sweet, endearing and helpful.
Look outside sweet, but inside not sweet.
Outside sweet, inside competitive.
What happens if they don't like the food?
They won't give me the blessing?
With my kitchen back, I can finally start my second course.
A spicy take of the banana leaf fish wrap,
I ate on the banks of the Mekong five days ago.
It's a beautiful way of tying up these little packets.
Do you want some help?
I'm good for now, thank you.
I was joking.
I'm busy enough as it is.
With just 30 minutes left,
Joi's throwing some catfish steaks on the barbecue.
But I have one of those incredible Coney Falls fish.
I'm going to lightly coat this fish,
stuff it with the herbs, and the lemon grass.
Yeah. And then, I'm going to literally quickly fry it.
I've never had to cook this fast.
No. I'm a little bit in the
Okay. You're not allowed to say bad word in here.
Not a nice word.
No! No!
No? Not even
- Nice word. - Nice words?
Give me a word for
Bad karma or not, I'm struggling to hold my tongue.
We're against the time. We need to finish.
Because the pressure is really on.
Where, where, where do I wash my pan?
In the river.
Oh, for god's sake man.
But, with just moments to spare, I'm onto my final dish.
Now I get to use the super strength gecko rice whisky.
And, three words we can all enjoy, caramelized flambé bananas.
Um, no, no, you can't.
Hold on a minute!
No, you can't do moonshine for the Monk.
It will be caramelized.
The alcohol will be gone.
But still got the, you've got alcohol in it?
No, no, you can't.
They beat the drum for the
people to bring the food into the temple.
The Monks may live a holy life,
but missing out on my banana flambé
may be their greatest sacrifice of all.
We better hurry.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Time to plate up.
Okay Joi.
- You done? - Just in time.
Finally, my feast is finished.
A sweet and sour catfish stew,
spicy banana leaf fish wrap, Coney Falls finest catch.
And, a snake bean salad.
But Joi's outdone himself.
A wood infused catfish soup.
Delicate lemon grass and fish parcels,
and mouthwatering barbecued fish steaks.
This is crazy.
I think just eat at the same time every day, 2:00 would be fine.
Yes, every time yeah.
I have the honor of serving the Head Monk and his Novices.
Please enjoy.
Meal times are sacred,
so Joi and I grab a sneak peep from a distance.
Watching the Monks eat my dishes feels a bit spiritual.
Hopefully it's a taste of heaven,
and they won't condemn me to eternity,
doing the dishes in Hell's Kitchen.
Finally, the moment of truth.
He said everything tasted good.
Please ask him about the catfish stew?
- He liked it? - Yeah, he liked it.
Would you explain that I did have a dessert for caramelized
bananas with moonshine, but we are not allowed?
But, next time, I'll just barbecue the bananas.
Clearly he's not impressed with my flambé faux pas.
But, I've still done enough to earn a blessing.
On my Laotian journey,
I've unearthed a vibrant cuisine that's packed full of flavors,
and found in the most surprising places.
As the Laotian people slowly emerge from poverty,
the Mekong River continues to give them something very valuable.
A rich culture that thrills the taste buds and feeds the soul.
That is priceless.
What an amazing week, thank you.
Yeah, thank you. Nice to visit.
- See you soon. - Good luck, So be it.
Amazing week.
Thank you.
And so with my karmic balance restored, at least for the moment,
it's on to my next adventure.
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