Bo la lot
What is bo la lot?
Bo la lot (“boh lah lòht”) is a Vietnamese dish made from beef (bo) rolled in the leaf of the wild betel plant (la lot). The rolls are then grilled over a charcoal fire. The heart-shaped leaves release a sweet, almost incense-like scent when they are heated. They give the meat a peppery taste and a unique character to the dish. The dish is a bit like a cross between a spring roll and a sausage.
Bo la lot can be served in many ways, as a snack or as part of a main meal. Sometimes the rolls are part of the larger dish bo bay mon (seven-course beef), or bun (rice vermicelli noodles). Bo la lot is also rolled in a lettuce leaf or in rice paper.
In earlier times, betel leaf was also used as a mouth freshener. However, as it turns your teeth black, this habit is no longer as popular.
Did you know...
Betel leaves have a symbolic value and are offered by the groom to the bride’s family during the wedding ceremonies.
How to make bo la lot
Ground beef, sometimes mixed with minced pork or chicken, is combined with typical Vietnamese flavourings such as garlic, shallot, lemongrass, fish sauce and curry powder. A spoon of the minced meat mixture is scooped on each betel leaf and shaped into a long sausage. The blade is rolled up and secured, for example, with an extra bit of minced meat mixture as ‘glue’, or with the stem of the leaf. The rolls are traditionally threaded on bamboo pickers and grilled over charcoal, but can also be baked in the oven or frying pan.
How to eat
If eating the rolls as a side dish, place them on top of the main course in the bowl. Sprinkle with chopped peanuts, drizzle with mo hanh (spring onions soaked in oil). Vietnamese also dip them in nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) before eating.
This dish is special thanks to the unusual betel leaves that are wrapped around the meat. Try bun bo nam bo if you feel like something even more daring.
Serve the rolls with a portion of bun thit nuong and a Vietnamese spring roll (cha gia) for a full meal. Or create a buffet by combining bo la lot with the dishes goi cuon (salad rolls), banh xeo (stuffed rice flour pancakes) and cha gio (spring rolls).