Vietnamese Grilled Beef in Betel Leaf Skewers - Bò Nướng Lá Lốt

This is a special recipe as it’s one of my favourite Vietnamese dishes, one I’ve been waiting for the right moment to share and it’s perfect for grilling on a Weber barbecue, because you need to cook and enjoy it tableside which makes it a great dish enjoyed in summer.

Thinly sliced and marinated beef is delicately wrapped in a betel leaf resembling the shape of a cigar, placed onto skewers and then grilled over flames until the leaves get charry, the skewers are glistening, juicy and fragrant. The best part is the incredible smell of these cooking, you’ll absolutely know when they’re ready. They’re generally served fresh and hot in rice paper rolls which is what I’ve done here, making it a great dish for summer with friends and family, otherwise you could also serve it in bowls as bún (vermicelli noodle bowls).


Serves- 4

Ingredients- 10 plus the extra ingredients to wrap these into rice paper rolls

Cooking Time- 1.5 hours

Skill Level- Moderate


Beef in betel leaf skewers

  • 500g of eye fillet beef, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch of betel leaves, leaves picked, washed and dried. You will find this at your asian markets and grocers. If you’re in Melbourne, you’ll find it at places like Footscray market (where I got it from) or even asian grocers in Springvale, Victoria St Richmond and Dandenong Markets.
  • 4 metal skewers (mine are from Weber) or a packet of bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 15 minutes. This prevents them from burning when you grill them.

    Marinade ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon of white sugar
    • 2 teaspoons of white pepper
    • 3-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
    • ½ tablespoon of chilli oil
    • 1 tablespoon of olive oil

      Ingredients for rice paper rolls

      • 1 packet (375g) of rice paper sheets
      • 1 packet (400g) of rice vermicelli
      • 2 cucumbers, preferably Lebanese, sliced into batons
      • 1 green mango, sliced
      • 1-2 heads of Vietnamese lettuce
      • A few bunches of your choice of herbs. I went with mint, Vietnamese mint, coriander, fish mint.


        1. Start by preparing your beef to marinade the night before or at least an hour before cooking. Using a sharp knife, slice the beef into thin slices. My trick is that I place the meat into the freezer for about 30 minutes-1 hour so that the meat firms up. This makes it a lot easier to cut through the meat faster and cut even, thin slices. Place your meat into a bowl.
        2. Then prepare your marinade. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl, season to taste and then combine with sliced beef making sure all the beef is coated in it. Allow to marinate in the fridge overnight or for at least an hour before cooking.
        3. The next day, pull out the beef and the betel leaves. To make the betel leaf cigars, take one leaf, place 1-2 slices of beef at the end of the leaf and then gently roll the leaf into a cigar shape. USe a skewer to pierce through the middle of the cigar and slide down the skewer. Repeat until you can no longer fit anymore onto the skewer. I managed to fit 10 per skewer and had 4 skewers (40 pieces). Set aside and make sure you have prepped all of your other rice paper rolls components before cooking. 
        4. Prepare your greens. Wash your herbs, cucumbers and lettuce. Cut your cucumbers into batons with the skins on, slice the mango and separate your cos lettuce leaves. Place all onto a serving plate.
        5. Meanwhile, cook your vermicelli by placing it into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 4 minutes or until they are soft. Drain into a colander and run some hot water over them to remove any excess starch and to stop them from sticking to each other. Place onto a plate ready to serve.
        6. Pour your Vietnamese dipping sauce (Nuoc Cham) into small bowls, putting a few tablespoons in each, so that everyone has their own sauce bowl to dip into.
        7. To cook the beef betel leaf skewers, heat up your Weber to 220 degrees celsius and use the grill side. 
        8. Drizzle some olive oil onto the skewers just before grilling and cook for about 5 minutes on each side or until the betel leaf is charred and the cigars are juicy and glistening. You’ll know they’re ready by the sheer aroma. Place the skewers onto a platter and serve immediately.
        9. Serve the greens, vermicelli and rice paper with a bowl of hot water on your table. Roll and eat your rolls fresh as you go and enjoy! 
        10. Other serving suggestions. You could also use all the same ingredients less the rice paper sheets and turn these into bún/vermicelli bowls. I also like to add some crushed peanuts as a crunchy textural garnish on top.

        How to assemble rice paper rolls

        1. To roll rice paper rolls, simply dip the rice paper into a bowl of warm to hot water and then place onto your plate to soften for 30 seconds. Once the rice paper has softened, place down a lettuce cup, a handful of vermicelli, 1 cucumber baton, 1 slice of mango and a handful of herbs.
        2. Add 2-3 beef betel leaf cigars.
        3. Then roll the rice paper away from you, tucking both ends in and continuing to roll until there is no more rice paper left. It should look like a skinny round burrito.
        4. Dip into the dipping sauce and enjoy.


          Watch the Process


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