This is a very tasty Vietnamese appetizer and part of the famous “bo 7 mon” Vietnamese menu of eating 7 different types of beef dishes. Beef 7 ways. No holy cow here. The skewers of little green parcels of beef make a lovely presentation.

La lot is a type of Asian herb – a large shiny heart-shaped leaf which gives a peppery, pungent and aromatic taste. Also called wild betelnut leaves or daun kadok in Southeast Asia, it is a vine and is related to the pepper family. La lot looks somewhat similar to betelnut, a member of the palm family, which is used like chewing tobacco in some parts of Asia. La lot lacks the narcotic content that betelnut gives. Even without the addictive content, the bo la lot is pretty addictive by itself!


  • 1 red Thai chile, finely minced or 1 teaspoon sambal olek
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 lime, juiced to make ¼ cup
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 24 La-Lot leaves (sub: perilla, shiso, grape leaves)
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons lemon grass, very finely minced
  • 3 La-lot leaves, chiffonade
  • 12 oz ground beef (15-20% fat)
  • 2 Tablespoon fish sauce,
  • 1 teaspoon Asian five spice powder
  • ½ teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar (sub: brown sugar)
  • 8 bamboo sticks, pre-soaked
  • Some canola oil for brushing


  • Preparing the dipping sauce: Mix all dipping sauce ingredients together (chile, garlic, sugar, lime juice, fish sauce, vinegar and water). Set aside.
  • Preparing the leaves: Remove the hard stem from the leaves. Bring a small pot of salted water to boil. Drop in the leaves wait 5 seconds and immediately remove and plunge into a bowl of iced water. Drain. Stack the leaves and cut off the two rounded sides so that the leaves are all even in size, about 2 ½ inch in length, set aside the leaves. Finely chiffonade the remnants edges, set aside.
  • Preparing the mirepoix: In a small saut pan, heat the canola oil. Add the chopped shallots and fry till translucent, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in minced garlic, chopped lemongrass and chiffonaded la-lot leaves. Let cool.
  • Preparing the meatballs: In a medium bowl, mix together the meatball ingredients (beef, fish sauce, five spice powder, sugar, and pepper.) Add the cooled mirepoix.
  • Mix together to combine.
  • Preparing the Bo La-Lot: Lay out a piece of leave, shiny side (top) up. Take about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture and form into a small log. Place the log on stem end of the leave. Fold in the sides and slowly roll tightly to enclose the log. Set on a baking tray. You should have about 24 rolls. Using 2 skewers in parallel, about ½ inch a part, skewer 3 logs per skewer. Brush the logs with oil.
  • Place the skewers on a grill rack, and cook about 3 minutes per side, till the leaves are slightly charred.
  • Serve with the nuoc cham dipping sauce.


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