The reason I cook is for my “Grumpy Gummy Tummy” (Javed’s new nickname as he’s been putting on weight from me feeding him). However, I can never deny that I love cooking just for the sake of cooking, preparing ingredients, chopping, grating, stirring, spinning around the stove and the sink,… It’s a huge pleasure for me, I can spend hours and hours in the kitchen.
Since we moved to our new place, I’ve been cooking and eating so much foreign food that I do miss cooking Vietnamese food a lot. I’ve noticed there’s some Wild Betel growing in a corner of our front yard and been telling myself to make this dish for ages. Finally today after a morning walk with him, we arrived at the gate when I announced “We are having rice today! I wanna use the leaves in the garden to cook some Vietnamese dish”. So I picked up a bunch of Wild Betel leaves from the garden, washed them and let dry before walking my dog to a traditional market nearby and get some meat.
This dish is originally a Southern grilled appetizer or snack that is very popular on the street if you come to Saigon. I am from the North where we have a similar dish made from minced pork instead of beef using a different kind of leaf to wrap. It is fried and serve with rice. So I decide to make a fusion of North and South. “Bò lá lốt” is solely made from beef but I find it kinda dry to my taste. I would like it to be more juicy so I mix beef and pork at a ratio of 1:1.
A little bit about Wild Betel: this is often confused with Betel but they don’t have such intense taste like Betel and the leaves are smaller. While Betel is a vine that can grow to 150-180cm in length, Wild Betel can only grow up to 40cm in height. Here’s a picture of Wild Betel on pot.
For this dish I’m writing a very quick and simple recipe for a snack or appetizer (even thought I had it served with rice today) in less than 30 minutes.
Serving: 2 people
- 100 gr ground beef
- 100 gr ground pork
- 20 Wild Betel leaves
- 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of sesame seeds (optional)
- Wash and dry the leaves. Mix beef and pork in a bowl. Add all the seasoning to the mixture and mix well.
- Time to wrap: the shiny side of the leaf will be outside. Put a teaspoon of the mixture at the pointy end of the heart-shaped leaf, roll it up and seal by pinning the stem to the leaf like thisor you can also skewer the rolls together.
- Grill on charcoal or in a skillet, turn the rolls to cook both side evenly. Cook until the leaves turn dark (could be a little crispy) a the meat on both ends turn golden brown.
This is my rolls today baked on a tray in the oven, I set the temperature of my at 200°C (depends on different ovens, my oven’s temperatue seems to be lower than what I set so if you want to use oven, it should be around 180°C-200°C and you should keep an eye on it), cooked in 5 min, flip the rolls and cook until the juice dripping out is dried up (about another 5 min)
Savoury and juicy meat in thin crispy leaf
Try it out and let me know!