“Let me set the scene – the vibrant, largely Asian suburb of Canley Vale in Sydney’s western suburbs, the big Hai Au restaurant on a street corner. Down one side is a long grill station, where fans are directed at the burning mangrove wood to make it more intense, and the air is filled with smoke and incredible cooking smells. I’m delighted Ben and his mum Mai have shared this beautifully simple recipe and surprised that something that tastes so exotic has golden syrup and barbecue sauce as ingredients!” Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Fire






Skill level

Average: 3.7 (76 votes)


  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) minced (ground) beef
  • 200 g (7 oz) minced (ground) pork
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp fine salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp barbecue sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, finely chopped
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) large round betel leaves
  • 40 20 cm (8 in) bamboo skewers

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time 1 hour

Mix the meats, sesame seeds, salt and pepper, barbecue sauce, five spice, golden syrup and lemongrass together in a large mixing bowl and combine well, squeezing and working the mixture well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Form sausage-shaped rolls of mixture – about two fingers thick (and about the same width as a betel leaf). Place a betel leaf in the palm of one hand, with the stalk facing away from you, green shiny side down. Place one minced meat sausage at the stalk end and roll tightly into a roll.

Skewer five rolls onto each bamboo stick and chargrill over low–medium heat, turning so that they cook evenly. Prick with a skewer after turning the first time to allow the heat to penetrate. It should take around 5–6 minutes per side to cook.

Rest for a minute before serving.


Recipe from Food Safari Fire by Maeve O'Meara (Hardie Grant, hbk, $55).  Photography by Kaily Koutsogiannis.


Visit the Food Safari Fire program page for recipes, videos and more.