Unlike most travellers who were using Huay Xai as a transit point between Thailand and Laos, Siamesecat and I made our way to the border town for some monkey business. (More on that next time.) We spent a little time cooling our heels here at this tiny strip of huts along the Mekong. I wished “Visit Laos” year would come round more so they’d get a new sign. While the town appeared fairly nondescript, it was so laid back that it was almost worth the couple of days spent here.
The streets were tidy and well-kept, lined by lots of pretty flowering shrubs.
The main focus was of course the river. The slow boat from Luang Prabang ejected its passengers, grubby from the two-day journey, along Huay Xai’s banks. Everything in this town seemed to point to the river.
Even the local temple, with its so-tacky-it’s-cool dragon balustrade, pointed to the river with the long flight of stairs up to the shrines themselves.
The stairs undulated their way down to the river, reminding devotees returning from prayer exactly where the source of life was for this town.
Strangely enough for a riverside town, this place was incredibly dusty. Even this cutie-pie of a dog had its fur messed up with brown. It lived at our guesthouse and at the end of our stay we still couldn’t figure out whether it was a white dog or a brown one.
Still on my quest to use tangerines for cooking and not straight up eating, I tried another variation on konnyaku. This one needs a bit of work not just with the zesting and juicing but also peeling the little suckers. Think about how good it’ll taste and how you used natural ingredients for it instead of artificial flavour and colour.
4 konnyaku moulds
10 mini tangerines, sectioned
750 ml water
zest of 5 tangerines
juice of the 5 tangerines (about 200 ml)
juice of ½ a lemon
10 g (1 pack) konnyaku powder
180 g sugar
Prepare the konnyaku moulds by placing 3 sections of mini tangerine in each compartment.
Combine the water and zest in a pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain out the zest and put it back on the heat. Add the citrus juices and bring to a boil.
Stir the sugar and konnyaku powder in a bowl, making sure the powder is well mixed into the sugar.
Add to the boiling mixture and stir till smooth.
Fill the moulds with the jelly mixture and leave to cool.
Transfer to fridge for at least 2 hours.
Unmould and serve.
Makes 32 jellies.
Note: If you can’t find mini tangerines, use canned ones. They’re mighty fine too. Plus, none of the hassle of peeling and sectioning them.