Chả Thịt Lợn Lá Lốt (Pork Betel Leaf Rolls)
From Ching Li
The betel leaf is part of the pepper family that is high in antioxidants and used for medicinal healing or even as a stimulant. Culturally, it is used to break the tension in awkward situations by passing it around to chew, It’s also used as an offering from a groom to the bride’s family. When raw, the betel leaf is not very fragrant, but when cooked it imparts a light peppery, herbaceous aroma to the pork. Tradition calls for beef but you may use pork or chicken.
- 1 pkg. fresh betel leaves (available at Asian markets in the produce section near the herbs)
- 1/2 lb. ground pork shoulder
- 1/2 lb. shrimp, peeled and finely chopped
- 3 stalks green onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 t. tapioca starch
- 4 t. cold water
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 t. ground pepper
- 1/3 t. salt
Wash and cut the stems from the betel leaves. Mix the pork, shrimp and green onion in a bowl. Whisk together the tapioca starch, water, egg white, pepper and salt in a bowl and add it to the pork and shrimp mixture.
Place the betel leaves with the smooth, shiny side facing down. Place 1/2 t. of filling on a large betel leaf or layer multiple smaller ones to form a large leaf and wrap as you would a taco, folding in the sides. Try to make them flat, as they will be easier to fry.
Heat 1 t. oil in a pan over medium heat. Place the wraps in the pan and fry until the leaves are cooked – they’re cooked when they get soft. This will not take very long – less than a minute. Flip them over and fry the other side until cooked. Serve with dipping sauce. You may serve with rice or vermicelli or as an appetizer with beer.