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Beef Wrapped In Pepper Leaves

This is a delicious Vietnamese appetizer. It is part of a popular dish known as Beef in Seven Ways, featuring multiple beef courses. If you are are unable to get pepper leaves, you can substitute it with grape leaves. The beef rolls are typically served with table salad and a dipping sauce. The salad consists of either red or green leaf lettuce, cucumber, bean sprouts, and some Vietnamese herbs. As for the dipping sauce recipe, you can find it here.

Recipe adapted from Pleasures Of The Vietnamese Table by Mai Pham

Beef Wrapped In Pepper Leaves


4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
2 Tbsp Finely Chopped Lemongrass
3 Tbsp Chopped Roasted Peanuts
1 tsp Ground Turmeric
2 tsp Sugar
2 tsp Fish Sauce
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 lb Coarsely Chopped Ground Beef
30 Large Pepper Leaves (Betel leaves)
4 (6 - 8 inch) Bamboo Skewers

Vietnamese Dipping Sauce, for serving
Table salad, for serving


Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in a pan over moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion and stir until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add the lemongrass, peanuts, turmeric, sugar, fish sauce, salt and ground beef. Mix with a fork until well blended and sticky, about 2 to 3 minutes. Set aside for 30 minutes.

To make the rolls, place 1 heaping Tbsp of the meat mixture in the center of a pepper leaf. Using your fingers, shape the meat into a cylinder about 2 inches long and 3/4 inch wide. Wrap the leaf around the meat but leave the sides open. (If necessary, use 2 leaves.) When done, place the roll seam side down. make the remaining rolls in the same way.

Thread 5 rolls onto each bamboo skewer, positioning the rolls so they touch one another at the seams. Set aside until ready to cook.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp oil in a large nonstick frying pan over a low heat. (Make sure the pan is large enough to accommodate the skewers. If not, shorten the skewers.) Add the beef rolls and cook until the meat is done, about 5 to 7 minutes total. Do not overcrowd the pan. Reduce the heat as necessary to keep the leaves from charring.

Transfer the skewers to a platter. Remove the skewers and serve the rolls with salad and Vietnamese Dipping Sauce.


  1. I've never heard of eating pepper leaves! Are they just bell pepper plants? if so I have a whole garden full...

    these look really tasty.

    1. The right kind of leaves for this recipe is "lá lốt." Its English name is piper lolot or lolot pepper. This vine looks very similar to black pepper (piper nigrum).

  2. @lk- healthy delicious: Pepper leaf is used extensively in Vitetnam, as an aromatic leaf in stir-fries and soups and as a wrapper. It belongs to a member of the wild betel family and they are not the same as bell pepper plants. Now, I wonder if we can consume bell pepper leaves?

  3. Great rendition! This is also one our favorites--we love the smokiness of the betel leaves as it's grilled. We sometimes find the beef tends to dry so now add chicken/pork to our version.


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