When I was a kid, I loved spending time with my Uncle Cao. I would go over to his house with my brother Dusty to spend the day with his family. Most of our time was spent with him completing errands, shopping for the best deals, going to the supermarket and most importantly taking advantage of all the free samples you could eat! Perhaps this is why I am comfortably “entertained” by shopping at any kind of market in my adult life. In the early 1990’s my uncle and family moved away to the Dallas area. Even though they were far away, my adventures with my uncle continued when I visited and still remain today. If we are ever together in the right place you can bet we will still have our quality time together which also included eating at various Asian eateries. I was a choice companion in his book. I could eat enough to justify the cost of the meal and I would go anywhere without a complaint. We have never really talked about the time we spent together but I think we just have an unspoken understanding that it means a lot to both of us.
In 2005 during one of my visits to Dallas a few years ago I was introduced by my uncle to Vietnamese Bò 7 món (literally means 7 courses of beef) at a quaint eatery in Garland.
This meal consisted of seven courses of beef all prepared in different ways. They were all very tasty but one out them stood out to me because of its wonderful flavor. It was the Bo la lot. Curry spiced ground beef wrapped in some kind of leaf and grilled over charcoal. At first the leaf looked like a grape leaf but had a flavor of its own. The leaf turned out to be the wild batel leaf. Learn more about it here.
Interestingly enough in 2007 I went to Vietnam with my father. We were visiting some relatives in his hometown just north of Saigon. We found wild batel leaves growing in the yard. In the picture below my dad surprised me with a batel plant he had just pulled out of his cousins back yard in which he kept insisting it was “good, good.”
Since then I have never experimented with batel leaves or making Bo la lot. That is until this week when I stumbled across some batel leaves at my local Asian market. I decided I was going to make Bo la lot and my version of Bun Thit Nuong (Vietnamese Grilled Pork with Vermicelli).
Here is the final dish…
Even The Chad approves.