Grilled Beef and Basil Rolls

Grilled Beef and Basil Rolls
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A classic Vietnamese appetizer bo goi la-lot, beef grilled in la-lot leaves, inspire this recipe. La-lot leaves are the crinkly, round, aromatic leaves of a Southeast Asian vine. If you live in a city with a large Vietnamese community, you may be able to find fresh la-lot leaves, but if not, don’t despair. The delicate rolls are equally delectable made with fresh basil, and that is what I prepare them with here. (For a Japanese touch, you could even use shiso leaves–which taste like a cross between mint and basil.) Sometimes these rolls are made with thin beef slices, sometimes with ground beef. I’ve followed the example of the Vietnam House restaurant in Saigon, using ground beef. Chopped peanuts add a nice crunchy finish. (Raichlen, Steven. “Grilled Beef and Basil Rolls.” The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition.  New York: Workman Publishing, 2011. 43. iPad.)


Find this recipe and more from Steven Raichlen in The Barbecue! Bible 10th Anniversary Edition


8 ounces very lean ground beef sirloin

2 cloves garlic, minced

5 teaspoon Asian fish sauce, or more to taste

1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste

1  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 or 2 large bunches basil, for about 60 large leaves

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts (optional)


You will also need:

10 to 12 short bamboo skewers and an aluminum foil shield (for grilling)


1. Combine the beef, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl and, using your hands, form a smooth paste. Cook a small amount of the beef mixture in a nonstick skillet until cooked through, then taste for seasoning, adding more fish sauce and/or sugar to the remaining beef mixture as necessary; it should be both salty and sweet.


2. Select 50 to 60 of the largest basil leaves. Rinse them under cold running water, then drain and blot them gently dry with paper towels.


3. Place one leaf, undersideup, on a work surface. Depending on the size of the leaf, mound up to 2 teaspoons of beef mixture in the center. Starting with the stem end, roll the leaf up into a compact cylinder. Place the rolled-up leaf on a baking sheet, with the leaf tip tucked under. Repeat with the remaining beef mixture and basil leaves.


4. Thread the beef rolls crossswise on the skewers, 5 rolls to a skewer, making sure to pierce the place where the leaf ends cross first. Note: You can make the beef rolls to this point up to several hours ahead of time. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate them.


5. Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high.


6. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the skewers on teh hot grate with the aluminum foil shield under the ends of the skewers. Grill the rolls, turning with tongs, until the beef rolls are cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes in all. When done, the basil will be lightly brownded and the rolls will be very hot to the touch. Serve the beef rolls on the skweres with the peanuts sprinkled on top (if using).

Start with the pale, concave side of the basil leaves facing up. Place a nugget of the ground beef mixture in the center of each basil leaf.
Beginning at the stem end, gently roll up the basil leaf around the meat.
Skewer four or five basil and beef rolls on bamboo skewers; this will pin the rolls shut.
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Steven Raichlen

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