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      RECIPE TITLE "Beef Wrapped in Pepper Leaves (bo nuong la lot)" from Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table: Recipes and Reminiscences from Vietnam's Best Market Kitchens, Street Cafes, and Home Cooks

    yields Serves 4 as an appetizer time--- difficulty easy

    La lot (pepper leaf) is used extensively in Vitetnam, as an aromatic leaf in stir-fries and soups and as a wrapper. A member of the wild betel family, it has shiny, dark green heart-shaped leaves. In the United States, these leaves have been showing up more frequently at Asian markets. If you can't find them, substitute red perilla or shiso or grape leaves.

    This dish is part of bo bay mon (Beef in Seven Ways), a popular special meal, featuring multiple beef courses. To enjoy this dish, serve it as an appetizer or as a topping for Rice Noodles with Fresh Herbs.

    These rolls are typically grilled over hot coals. However, I prefer to cook them in a pan because the la lot leaves available in the United States are too mature and burn more easily when cooked on a grill.

      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    4 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
    1/2 yellow onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
    2 tablespoons finely chopped lemongrass
    3 tablespoons chopped Roasted Peanuts
    1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    2 teaspoons sugar
    2 teaspoons fish sauce
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 pound coarsely ground beef
    30 large la lot (pepper leaves) or red perilla or grape leaves
    4 (6- or 8-inch) bamboo skewers
    Table Salad for serving
    Vietnamese Dipping Sauce for serving

      RECIPE METHOD

    1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the lemongrass, peanuts, turmeric, sugar, fish sauce, salt and ground beef. Mix with a fork until well blended and sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes.
    2. To make the rolls, place 1 heaping tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of a pepper leaf. Using your fingers, shape the meat into a cylinder about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Wrap the leaf around the meat but leave the sides open. (If necessary, use 2 leaves.) When done, place the roll seam side down. Make the remaining rolls in the same way.
    3. Thread 5 rolls onto each bamboo skewer, positioning the rolls so they touch one another at the seams. Set aside until ready to cook.
    4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick frying pan over low heat. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the skewers. If not, shorten the skewers.) Add the beef rolls and cook until the meat is done, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Do not overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat as necessary to keep the leaves from charring.
    5. Transfer the skewers to a platter. Remove the skewers and serve the rolls with Table Salad and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.


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