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Vietnamese Recipe :Grilled Leaf-Wrapped Beef Kebabs (Bo La Lot)

>> Nov 21, 2008

Makes 26 to 30 rolls, enough for 6 as a snack

1 pound ground beef, chuck preferred

Seasoning option #1:
¼ cup minced scallion, green and white part
2 teaspoons fish sauce
Scant ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder, Sun brand preferred

Seasoning option #2:
2 tablespoons finely minced lemongrass (about 1 medium-small stalk)
2 teaspoons Madras curry powder, Sun brand preferred
¼ cup minced scallion, green and white part
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cornstarch (optional, if you want a firm filling that does not weep during cooking)
About 4 ounces la lot leaves with the stems attached, enough to yield 26 to 30 large leaves
1 tablespoon neutral flavored oil
1 recipe Basic Dipping Sauce (nuoc cham), made with the addition of minced garlic

1. In a bowl, combine the beef with one of the seasoning options and cornstarch. Use your fingers to mix well. Set aside to marinate while you prepare the leaves.

2. Use scissors or your fingers to detach the leaves from their center stems. Make sure to keep the leaf stem attached to the leaf. You’ll need it later for creating the rolls. Rory puts the leaves matted side facing up so they’re efficiently ready to roll and he doesn’t forget which side the meat goes on.

3. To make the rolls, put a leaf on your work surface, matted side up. Take a bit of meat (about 2 tablespoons) and use your hand to shape it into a small sausage of sorts. Place the meat on the leaf, about 1/3 of the way below the pointy tip. The length of the sausage doesn’t need to span the full width of the leaf because the leaf shrivels during cooking, Rory says. I like to get the meat to span the full width so that there’s moisture from the meat to prevent less charring during cooking. It’s your choice.

Then roll up the meat in the leaf and use the little stem to seal it up. The roll will keep its shape. Place the finished roll on a foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining leaves until all the beef is used. Rub a bit of oil on each roll when all of them are done.

4. To cook, position an oven rack on the top third of the oven and preheat to broil. Slip the baking sheet into the oven and broil for 6 to 8 minutes, turning them frequently to cook evenly and prevent too much charring of the leaf. The cooked rolls will feel firm, look a bit shriveled, and be slightly charred at the edges.

Instead of broiling, you can also cook the rolls on a stove-top cast iron grill. Traditional open flame grilling often times burns the leaves up too quickly, unless you use moderately-low heat.

To grill the rolls, prepare a medium charcoal fire (you can hold your hand over the rack for only 4 to 5 seconds) or heat a gas grill to medium. Grill the rolls, with the top open most of the time so you may constantly monitor their progress and move them around to avoid burning the leaves. (The heat will go to about medium-low because you'll have the lid open.)

5. Transfer to a plate and serve with the dipping sauce. Leftovers reheat well in a toaster oven preheated to 350F.


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