Bo la lot are perfectly wrapped beef parcels in betel leaves. When cooked over a charcoal grill, the smell of grilled betel leaf is incredibly fragrant. These really are a must-have at any barbecue.
- 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) minced (ground) beef
- 100 g (3½ oz) minced (ground) pork fat
- 100 ml (3½ fl oz) oyster sauce
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, minced
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 48 betel leaves
- 1 iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 bunch Vietnamese mint
- 1 bunch mint
Nuoc mam dipping sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 brid's eye chillies, finely chopped or sliced
- 150 ml fish sauce
- 100 ml white vinegar
- 140 g caster (superfine) sugar
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.
Resting time: 1 hour 30 minutes
1. Soak 12 bamboo skewers in cold water for 1 hour. Drain.
2. Combine the beef and pork fat in a large bowl and mix well. Add the remaining ingredients except the betel leaves and form the mixture into a ball. Slap the ball against the side of the bowl several times until the mixture no longer sticks to your fingers. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30–60 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by combining the ingredients and 200 ml water in a bowl and stiring through until the sugar has dissolved. Makes 600 ml, the remainder can be kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
4. Prepare a charcoal grill or preheat a barbecue grill to high.
5. Place a betel leaf on a chopping board and roll 30 g–40 g (1 oz–1½ oz) of the beef mixture in your hands. Place the mixture in the centre of the leaf and gently roll into a sausage shape just smaller than the width of the leaf. Fold in the ends of the leaf and roll into a tight log, then push a bamboo skewer through the centre to secure the leaf and its filling. Repeat with the remaining filling and betel leaves, pushing four bo la lot onto each skewer.
6. When the charcoal grill is ready (the embers should be glowing red with a small flame on the charcoal), place the bo la lot on the grill and cook, turning from time to time, for about 8 minutes or until the rolls are firm when squeezed with tongs.
7. Place the lettuce and herbs in the centre of the table and divide the nuoc mam among dipping bowls. Invite guests to wrap the bo la lot and herbs in the lettuce leaves, and dip them in the nuoc mam.
Recipe from Street Food Vietnam by Jerry Mai, Smith Street Books, RRP $39.99