In the past year, I’ve gone deep with Vietnamese food, learning to make some of the more traditional dishes that I’ve always loved. This one in particular is one I haven’t made because the key ingredient is extremely hard to find in the Bay Area. Bo La Lot is ground beef wrapped in La Lot or Betel leaves. It is a common appetizer that we have at parties or at bars. What I love most about it is that it’s meant to be shared amongst friends and family.
More about bo la lot
As mentioned, I don’t make this stuff often because La Lot is extremely hard to find in the Bay Area. Even in LA where there is a large Vietnamese population, my mom and I had to go to 3 grocery stores before we found it. La Lot or Betel leaves in English is a large heart shaped leaf that is shiny on one side and matte on the other. It has no flavor raw, but when you hit it with some heat, it has this slightly minty flavor. That combined with the earthiness of the ground beef is absolutely magical.
How do you make it?
This bo la lot recipe is easier to make that you think. You first mix ground beef with some seasoning (see below for recipe) and then roll it up in the leaf. Place about 1-2 tablespoons on the pointy side of the leaf and then roll it up like an egg roll. Make sure you use the matte side of the leaf. Then place the bo la lot onto a skewer. Poke the skewer through the side with the stem first and then through the entire roll. This will help it stay together in the oven.
Grilling vs Broiling
Normally, a typical bo la lot recipe calls for a grill, but I read on this blog that you can use the oven. I personally prefer this method because I don’t have an outdoor grill. Grilling on the stove tends to stink up my apartment. Set your oven to broil and stick them in for 6-8 minutes. Turn them over every 2 minutes to prevent the leaves from burning. While broiling is easier, grilling gives the dish more flavor.
How do you eat bo la lot?
Bo la lot can be eaten 2 ways: in a vermicelli bowl or in a spring roll. I personally prefer it in a spring roll with a little Vietnamese dipping sauce. As a side note, vermicelli bowls and spring rolls are essentially the same except spring rolls are wrapped in rice paper. Whatever way you choose to eat it, make sure to eat it with a large group of people because this dish goes best with a crisp pilsner and a whole lot of conversation. 🙂
Did you make Bo La Lot?
If you made this dish, I would love to see!
Bo La Lot Essentials
- ~~Bo La Lot~~
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 shallot (minced)
- 1 stalk lemongrass (minced)
- 40 betel leaves
- scallion oil (optional; search "banh cuon" for recipe)
- Vietnamese mint
- cucumbers (thinly sliced)
- Vietnamese dipping sauce (search nuoc cham for recipe)
- Preheat your oven to broil.
- Add all the ingredients for the Bo La Lot into a large bowl. Mix together with your hands and let marinate for 10 minutes.
- Make your bo ba lot. Lay your betel leaf flat on a plate with the matte side up. Roll 1-2 tablespoons of meat into the shape of a small sausage and add to the leaf. Make sure you place the meat closer to the pointy side of the leaf. Roll the bo la lot like you would an egg roll. Put the bo la lot onto a skewer. Repeat this process until you run out of meat or betel leaves.
- Put your skewers onto a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Broil the bo la lot for 6-8 minutes, turning them every 2 minutes to prevent the leaves from burning. Make sure to place the baking sheet on the top third of the oven.
- Serve right after it's done. You can eat them in a vermicelli bowl or in a spring roll.