Preparation time: 45 min.
Cooking time: 30 min
Gaeng Oom was the specialty of my wife's late mother, a supremely talented cook. Aromatic, spicy, and easily adaptable to whatever is fresh--it is Northeastern Thai/Lao cooking at its best. Be sure to include the dill, though, since it is the star here.
First, soak the sticky rice, and clean and prepare the vegetables. Season the meat with a sprinkle of salt to taste. Put the chiles, ground lemongrass, garlic, and shallots in a mortar and pound to a paste.
Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil at medium high in a large pot. Add the lemongrass paste mixture and cook a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the meat with bones to the pot and brown, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the meat without bones and cook briefly. Add the vegetables and a cup of water. Cover and simmer until the vegetables are almost done.
Drain the sticky rice and pound into a paste in the mortar. Add the sticky rice paste to the pot, along with a bit more water if it is not looking like a stew. Simmer 3-4 minutes more. Add the dill and simmer a couple more minutes. Season to taste with fish sauce, sugar, and fermented fish paste (it really is great in small doses).
© Ying & Scott Mossman