Beef in betel leaf

Beef in betel leaf

Bò lá lốt

Real Vietnamese Cooking
Michael Fountoulakis

This dish was one of my earliest introductions to Vietnamese street food. The wonderful aroma of the betel leaf charring on the outdoor charcoal burners holds a dear place in my culinary memory.

Though commonly known as betel leaf, this ingredient is actually not part of the betel nut tree! The tree is just the host to the special vine that produces this leaf.


Quantity Ingredient
250g minced beef fillet
80g minced pork fat
2 tablespoons peanuts, roasted and chopped
1 lemongrass stem, finely chopped, white part only
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon five-spice
1/3 teaspoon sesame oil
18 whole betel nut leaves, without any tears
vegetable oil, for brushing

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
300g dried rice vermicelli
1 butter lettuce, separated into cups
coriander leaves
thai basil
30g peanuts, roasted and chopped
Classic dipping sauce


  1. Soak six bamboo skewers in cold water for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a chargrill or barbecue to medium–high.
  3. Combine the beef, pork fat, peanuts, lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, five-spice and sesame oil in a bowl and mix thoroughly.
  4. Prepare the betel leaves by removing any tough stems and wiping the leaves with a damp cloth. Place the leaves on a work surface, smooth side down, with the point of the leaf furthest away from you. Divide the beef mixture equally among the leaves, placing it just below the centre of the leaf. Roll each leaf up, taking care to fold in the sides.
  5. Thread three rolls onto each skewer. Brush the rolls with oil and chargrill for a few minutes on each side, until the leaves are nicely charred and the beef is just cooked through.
  6. Meanwhile, soak the vermicelli in boiling water for 4–5 minutes. Gently stir to separate the noodles, then drain and refresh under cold water. Use kitchen scissors to cut the vermicelli into easy-to-manage lengths.
  7. Arrange the noodles, lettuce cups and herbs on a platter. Top with the beef parcels then scatter with the peanuts. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Real Vietnamese Cooking
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