Grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaf

  • Preparation time: 20 min minutes
  • Cook time: 20 min minutes

Grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaf Photo: @veselkaroman

Detailed Instructions


1 lb of ground beef (or you can also use a mixture such 1/2 beef and pork or 1/2 beef and chicken)

1/2 tablespoon of finely minced garlic

1/2 tablespoon of finely minced shallots

1 tablespoon of curry powder

2 tablespoon of chopped lemon grass

2 teaspoons of fish sauce

Sugar, salt, scallion oil

1 teaspoon of cracked pepper

1 package of fresh or frozen betel leaves

Roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

How to cook

Combine meat with garlic, shallots, lemongrass, curry, fish sauce, sugar, pepper and salt. Detach the betel leaves from their stems and roll the leaves with meat combination, with glossy side of leaves facing down. Then grill the rolls over small charcoal ovens. Top with dry roasted peanuts and scallion oil and serve immediately or with vermicelli noddle.


Riding along the crowded streets of Saigon in the afternoon, people can often be attracted by a fragrant and spicy smell of seasoned grilled rolls of beef, stemming from moving-stalls blurred in the smoke from charcoal flame. This dish, wrapped up in wild betel leaf, has become a favorite snack of Vietnamese, particularly Saigonese, to serve with beer or wine.

The smell of wild betel leaf

Though its raw form holds not much of a fragrance, the betel leaf, on the contrary, leaves a charming herbaceous and slightly peppery aroma to the beef. Originated from Southeast Asia and has been cultivated for thousands of years, this kind of herbal is high in antioxidants and has widely been known as a medicine. Wild betel leaf is very popular in Vietnamese life as a cuisine as well. The dish is usually served with bun (vermicilli noodles), wrapped with lettuce rolls in rice paper as a spring roll, or served on it’s own as appetizers. It’s tasty on their own already, though many people like to dip in the ubiquitous Vietnamese sauce. The plate of vegetables goes with the rolls is also remarkable, with its wide variety of plants and tastes.

Dish for afternoon snack

Grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaf is an ideal dish for an afternoon drink amongst men, as well as for a friend gathering when people can gossip, enjoy the incense smell while grilling. Partly because of being a grilled food, this dish is often served outside or especially on the street. Cool days or even rainy days, the time when grilled beef wrapped in wild betel leaf is the most popular. Such a pleasant atmosphere created by the funny sound of grilling beef and delicious smell spread around a corner lures people into stopping for some minutes and enjoy the dish.

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