This is a very tasty Vietnamese appetizer and part of the famous “bo 7 mon” Vietnamese menu of eating 7 different types of beef dishes. Beef 7 ways. No holy cow here. The skewers of little green parcels of beef make a lovely presentation.
La lot is a type of Asian herb – a large shiny heart-shaped leaf which gives a peppery, pungent and aromatic taste. Also called wild betelnut leaves or daun kadok in Southeast Asia, it is a vine and is related to the pepper family. La lot looks somewhat similar to betelnut, a member of the palm family, which is used like chewing tobacco in some parts of Asia. La lot lacks the narcotic content that betelnut gives. Even without the addictive content, the bo la lot is pretty addictive by itself!
Chef’s tip: Use double skewers when skewing the meatballs. That way, you won’t have it pivoting around the skewer.
Nuoc Mam Cham Sauce:
1 red Thai chile, finely minced or 1 teaspoon sambal olek
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced to make ¼ cup
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
24 La-Lot leaves (sub: perilla, shiso, grape leaves), blanched
1 Tablespoon canola oil
2 large shallots, diced finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons lemon grass, finely minced
3 La-lot leaves, chiffonade
12 oz ground beef (15-20% fat)
2 Tablespoon fish sauce,
1 teaspoon Asian five spice powder
½ teaspoon tumeric powder
1 teaspoon palm sugar (sub: brown sugar)
8 bamboo sticks, pre-soaked
Some canola oil for brushing
Preparing the sauce:
1. Mix all dipping sauce ingredients together (chile, garlic, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar and water). Set aside.
Preparing the leaves:
2. Remove the hard stem from the leaves.
3. Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Drop in 24 leaves, wait 5 seconds and immediately remove and plunge into a bowl of iced water. Drain and pat dry. Leave whole.
Preparing the meatballs:
4. In a small sauté pan, heat the canola oil. Add the chopped shallots and fry till translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in minced garlic, chopped lemongrass and chiffonaded la-lot leaves. Let cool.
5. In a medium bowl, mix together the meatball ingredients (beef, fish sauce, five spice powder, sugar, and pepper.) Add the cooled mirepoix. Mix together to combine.
6. Lay out a piece of leave, shiny side (top) up. Take about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture and form into a small log. Place the log on stem end of the leave. Fold in the sides and slowly roll tightly to enclose the log. Set on a baking tray. You should have about 24 rolls.
7. Using 2 skewers in parallel, about ½ inch a part, skewer 3 logs per skewer. Brush the logs with oil.
8. Place the skewers on a grill rack, and cook about 3 minutes per side, till the leaves are slightly charred.
9. Serve with the nuoc mam cham dipping sauce.
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