This is one course in a "beef seven ways" dinner. It is traditionally made with the leaves of lốt, an herb common in Vietnam. Grape leaves are the best substitute.
- 1⁄2 lb. ground beef
- 1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 fresh hot red chile (Thai or serrano), thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 Tbsp. minced inner stalks lemongrass
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. Vietnamese fish sauce (nýớc mắm)
- 18 large grape leaves
- Vegetable oil
- Nýớc chấm
Mix together beef, shallots, chile, garlic, lemongrass, sugar, and fish sauce in a medium bowl. If using wood skewers, place skewers in a pan of water and soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile rinse grape leaves, pat dry, and trim into 3'' x 6'' rectangles. Place about 1 tbsp. beef mixture in the center of each leaf and roll into a tight cylinder.
Preheat a gas grill or place a stove-top grill pan or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Secure rolls crosswise on skewers, brush lightly with vegetable oil, and grill, turning once, until lightly charred, about 2 minutes per side. Serve with nýớc chấm.