Having come across some la-lot leaves for the first time in an Oriental supermarket the other day, I got out my Oriental cookery books, and found that I only had 2 Vietnamese recipes which called for la-lot leaves after all. This seems to happen to me over and over again when I come across some new ingredient which I'm sure I've read about in some cookbook or other. When I actually buy the stuff, I can't find the recipes I was sure I had for it, lol.
I ended up using the la-lot leaves in this very tasty as well as colorful Vietnamese soup, from Simple Art of Vietnamese Cooking by Binh Duong and Marcia Kiesel, and I'm sure we'll be making it again. The la-lot leaves, piper sarmentosum, are apparently related to the vine that produces black pepper.
La-lot Beef Soup
4 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cups steamed white rice, preferably long grain jasmine rice
2 whites of scallions (spring onions), thinly sliced
1/2 t ground black pepper
3 T Vietnamese fish sauce (nuoc mam)
8 ounces lean beef (top round), cut into very thin slices
3 T vegetable oil
1/2 t dried chili flakes
2 stalks lemon grass, flattened with the side of a knife, and cut into 2" lengths
2 medium tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
10 la-lot leaves, cut into wide strips
In a large bowl combine the scallions, black pepper, and 1 T. of the fish sauce.
Add the beef and toss to coat. Set aside to marinate for 10 min.
Put 1T of the oil in a small saucepan over high heat. When a chili flake sizzles, drop in the rest and remove from the heat. Set the chili oil aside.
Bring the stock and the lemon grass to the boil in a large saucepan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 min.
Heat the remaining 2 T. oil in a wok over high heat. Whent he oil starts to smoke, add the beef and brown it on both sides, stirring once or twice. Add the tomatoes and stir fry until the beef is cooked., about 2 min. With a large spoon, add the beef and tomatoes to the soup. Bring the soup to the boil over high heat, add the remaining 2 T. of fish sauce and the reserved chili oil. Remove from the heat and stir in the la-lot leaves. To serve, spoon rice into each soup bowl and ladle the soup over it. Eat with chopsticks and soup spoons.