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Monday, March 28, 2011

If Martha made Vietnamese-- Bò Lá Lốt (Grilled Beef wrapped in Grape Leaves)

It's been a long time since I've added a recipe to If Martha made Vietnamese.  And truth be told, with Papa so busy these days, I've haven't been cooking fun stuff as often.  So I thought I'd resume with one of my very very favorites of all times!  Just the thought of this one makes my mouth water!
Way back when I was pregnant with Sunny, when I was in my 20's... back before the invention of the cell phone and the wheel and fire, we had a little Vietnamese restaurant down the street from our first tiny house.  This was well before adopting little ones from VietNam was even a possibility, actually it was even 10+ years before adopting anyone was even a thought!  Heck, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have even been able to point to VietNam on a map way back then!  Before I ever had phở or bò khoand before I even knew what a bánh mì was, there was bò lá lốt.  It opened up my taste buds to the world of Vietnamese cuisine.  And I've never been quite the same.  

Later, we when had moved away from our little house and the little Vietnamese restaurant down the street, when I was pregnant with Boo, I would crave bò lá lốt, and sweet Papa would drive 45 minutes one way, to get them for me. It's just that good.

It's taken me several attempts to get the recipe just right.  And truth be told, there are recipes all across the internet for bò lá lốt.  But I had trouble getting it right.  So here's a combination of several recipes that just seem to work for me.  
Bò means beef.  And lá lốt are the specific type of leaves that are used to wrap the beef for grilling.  Now, see here's the thing.  I tried lá lốt... a couple different times and a couple different types.  And as much as I'd like to think that I have an exotic pallet, I just can't "appreciate" the very unique flavors of lá lốt.  And you see, lá lốt can also be hard to find and expensive, so many recipes substitute grape leaves for lá lốt.  And BINGO!  My mouth watering little piece of heaven was back!
Ya ready???
1 lb ground beef
1/4 c minced shallot (ok to substitute onions)
2 T lemon grass- minced finely
1 t curry powder (optional)
2 t fish sauce
2 cloves garlic-minced finely
2 t oyster sauce (optional)
1 t sugar

1 t black pepper
1/2 t salt
1 t corn starch
24-36 fresh grape leaves (or frozen or jarred)

Preparation Instructions---

Rinse fresh grape leaves and remove stems, or rinse jarred leaves.  Sweet Boo was my helper with this part.
Mix lemon grass, curry powder, scallions, garlic, sugar, fish sauce, oyster sauce, salt and pepper, and corn starch.  Add ground beef and mix together well. 
Place leaf matte-side up.  

Shape approximately 1-2T of beef mixture into a sausage shape.  Place meat on center of top 1/3 of leaf.  
Fold top of leaf over meat and sides in towards the center.  
Roll up.
Place a wooden skewer through middle of wrapped beef, and when skewer has 4-5 rolls on it, put on foil lined baking sheet.  {or Silpat a remnant of when-the-economy-was-THAT-good days.}
Brush leaf-wrapped rolls with a bit of oil.
Broil in the oven, (I prefer this method of cooking, although there are many different ways to cook) about 4 minutes each side, until outsides are slightly shriveled and a bit charred on the outside.  (You can also grill or sautee, approximately 4 minutes each side, or until meat is cooked through.)
Transfer to a platter and serve warm with traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce, nước chấm, (super easy and fast to throw together!)


  1. My goodness! Amazing! I am so hungry now!

  2. Let me know when you want to do it again, and Ill bring some fresh grape leaves off my vine in exchange for a bite! :0)

  3. YUM!!! I'm wondering where in the world I'd find grape leaves here...have never seen them. But maybe because I wasn't looking?

  4. Jerusha---You'll find the grape leaves at your local Asian grocery. If you have one of those in your neck of the woods. You'll probably need to pick up a couple other ingredients there too, like the fish sauce and oyster sauce, lemon grass too.

    They're SO SO yummy!

  5. oh my gosh. this looks doable! and SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!

    I am hungry right now, so please excuse the emotion.

    thanks for sharing dearest

  6. Oh my gosh, thank you Nancy! Those look like something that I could possibly make. They also look delicious. Vietnamese cuisine is just the best.


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