Luke Nguyen cooks his version of this popular Laotian street food. The pork-stuffed peppers makes a great barbecue dish as you can prepare them well ahead of time and keep them refrigerated until ready to chargrill. Serve with steamed sticky rice as an entree or on their own with a cold beer as a snack.
- 3 lemongrass stems, white part only, chopped
- 4 red Asian shallots, sliced
- 2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) minced (ground) pork
- 1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 3 spring onions (scallions), finely sliced
- 1 handful chopped dill
- 4 makrut lime leaves, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp padek (Laotian fermented fish sauce) or mam nem (Vietnamese fermented anchovy sauce)
- 4 large or 8 small yellow banana capsicums (peppers)
- 2 banana leaves, cut into 20 x 30 cm (8 x 12 inch) rectangles
- sticky rice, to serve
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.
Using a large mortar and pestle, pound the lemongrass, shallot and chilli to a rough paste. Add the pork, sugar and a pinch of sea salt and pound again. Add the spring onion, dill and lime leaves and pound well. Add the fish sauce and half the padek or mam nem and pound again.
Working from the top of each capsicum, slice down one side down to the stem, using a sharp knife. Remove the seeds by scraping them out with a small spoon, then discard. Stuff the capsicums with the pork mixture and set aside.
Heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan to medium-high. Place the banana leaves on top of the grill to stop the capsicums burning. Chargrill the capsicums on top of the banana leaves for 7-8 minutes each side, basting them with the remaining padek or mam nem as they cook.
Serve hot, with sticky rice.