Origin - Vietnam
Bò nướng lá lốt ("grilled beef, in lolot leaf") is a Vietnamese dish that consists of minced beef mixed with garlic, shallots, and spices that is wrapped and rolled in lolot leaves. When the rolls are slowly grilled over smoky hot charcoal, the lolot leaves release a mesmerizing scent.
The uncontested star of this dish is the soft and flexible lolot leaves. These leaves are shiny on one side and matted on the other and don’t have much character until they are put in heat; releasing a sweetly spicy, and incense-like aroma.
The lolot leaves sink flavor into the beef and is what gives a slight peppery and herbal taste, thus making Bò nướng lá lốt taste uniquely authentic. It is commonly served with a side of pickled vegetables, lettuce, and herbs to be wrapped with soft rice paper. They’re a favorite Vietnamese snack that’s great with cold beer or wine.
[ Fun Fact ]
Lolot plants originated from Southeast Asia and has been grown for thousands of years. High in antioxidants and vitamins, their uses have included, stimulants, medicinal healing, and even breath fresheners. Other Asian cultures use lolot leaves to make salads and soups.
[ Ingredients ]The most common ingredients in rice paper wrapped dishes include shrimp, pork, and Vietnamese sausage but none of these can compare to Bò nướng lá lốt. It stands alone as the most aromatic and flavorful ingredient for rice paper wrapped dishes in Vietnamese cuisine, making it a popular choice for most Vietnamese locals.
The lolot (Piper Sarmentosum) plant is part of the Piperaceae family which includes pepper and kava. It’s sibling, the Betel plant, is also called trầ in Vietnamese and has a special symbolic meaning in tradition Vietnamese weddings where the groom would offer betel leaves among other gifts to the bride’s family.
[ How to Eat ]
Bò nướng lá lốt is commonly served with Mắm Nêm, which is a fermented anchovy dipping sauce that has a very acquired taste, but once you’re used to it, you’ll always ask for it every time. But, if the taste is not much of your liking, you can always opt for a sweet and tangy tamarind sauce.