Rice paper rolls with grilled lemongrass beef betel leaves & star fruit

Rice paper rolls with grilled lemongrass beef betel leaves & star fruit

Bò cuőn la lőt bánh tráng

Street Food Asia
Alan Benson

On Cô Giang Street in District 1 there is a guy who cooks this dish using just a basic chargrill. Betel leaves are interesting; where the Thais like theirs raw, the Vietnamese love to cook them either in stir-fries or stuffed and chargrilled, as here. The stuffing is a mixture of minced beef, lemongrass, garlic, fish sauce and coriander; it’s rolled neatly in the leaves to make small, tight rolls, which are then grilled. You can eat these little packages in lots of ways; stuffed into baguettes, for example. But my favourite is to wrap them in rice paper with fresh vermicelli noodles, tons of fresh herbs and some star fruit and green banana (although I’ve left this out of my recipe), for a slightly sour edge. This is a ripper of a dish to cook for a barbecue at home.


Quantity Ingredient
80g rice vermicelli noodles, cooked according to packet instructions
1 bunch perilla, leaves picked, (see glossary)
1 bunch vietnamese mint
1 lebanese cucumber, cut into batons
2 star fruit, thinly sliced, (carambola; see glossary)
60ml Nuoc cham, for dipping
20 x 22cm rice paper sheets
finely chopped bird's eye chillies, to serve

Grilled lemongrass beef betel leaves

Quantity Ingredient
400g minced beef
2 lemongrass stems, finely chopped, white part only
4 spring onions, finely chopped, white part only
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1 bunch betel leaves, (see glossary)
vegetable oil, for brushing


  1. For the beef betel leaves, combine the beef, lemongrass, spring onions, garlic, salt and white pepper in a mixing bowl. Cover and allow the flavours to infuse for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the stems from the individual betel leaves and wash the leaves in cold water. Lay flat on a cloth to dry.
  3. Once dry, lay a large betel leaf (or two smaller leaves), shiny side down, on a chopping board with the stem end of the leaf pointing towards you. Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon of the beef mixture onto the bottom edge of the leaf. Work the mixture into a sausage shape using your hands, then roll the leaf from bottom to top, folding in the sides to enclose the meat and form a parcel. Place the parcel, seam side down, on your chopping board to stop the leaf unrolling. Repeat this process until you have used all of the beef.
  4. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue chargrill to medium. Brush the betel leaf parcels with oil, arrange them, seam side down, and grill for about 5 minutes, turning to colour all over, until cooked through.
  5. Arrange the vermicelli noodles, fresh herbs, cucumber, star fruit and cooked betel leaves on a large round tray. Pour the nuoc cham into 4–6 small dipping bowls, then allow your guests to wrap and roll their own rice paper rolls. To assemble one, dip a rice paper sheet into a bowl of water, then lay it flat on a plate. Place two cooked betel leaf parcels in the centre of the sheet crossways, approximately 4 cm from the top. Below the betel leaf parcels add some of the perilla leaves, Vietnamese mint, vermicelli, cucumber and star fruit. Fold the sides into the centre over the filling, then roll the bottom of the paper up to form a tight roll. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
South-East Asian
Street Food
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