As a food person and someone who is in the food business, I get to try a lot of new dishes. Every once in a while I try something that is a thoroughly new idea to me. It might be a food I’ve never tried before but more likely, it’s a food that’s used in a completely different way. Stuff wrapped in grape leaves (dolma) has always been good but has never really been a favorite of mine. That’s all changed now. Andrew Zimmerman, host of Bizarre Foods on the Food Network offered this recipe in the June issue of Food and Wine magazine. You roll a ground beef mixture in grape leaves, then grill, and then dip in Nuoc Cham (the famous Vietnamese dipping sauce). I promise that you’ll never look at pickled grape leaves the same way again. The recipe may appear long and complicated but it really isn’t, especially if you get someone nice to help you. Prepare to be amazed! P.S. We halved the recipe with great results. The full recipe makes approximately 40 rolls. Also, I didn’t refrigerate the beef for very long and it turned out fine.
Grilled Beef Rolls with Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce
Slideshow: Delicious Asian Grilling Recipes
2 pounds ground sirloin
3 garlic cloves, finely grated
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine or sherry
1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
1 tablespoon sambal oelek or other Asian chile sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
40 jarred brined grape leaves—drained, rinsed and patted dry
Vegetable or peanut oil, for grilling
Chopped cilantro, for serving
Chopped mint leaves, for serving
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup hot water
⅓ cup fish sauce
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeño(about 1 tablespoon), seeded and minced
3 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts, finely chopped
Make the beef rolls in a large bowl, combine the ground beef with all of the ingredients up to but not including the grape leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Snip off any stems from the grape leaves. Spread 4 leaves on a work surface. Form a 1-tablespoon-size log of the beef filling at the stem end of each leaf. Fold the sides of the leaves over the filling, then tightly roll up the leaves to form cylinders, tucking in the sides as you go. Repeat with the remaining grape leaves and filling.
Make the Nuoc Cham in a medium bowl, whisk the sugar into the hot water until dissolved. Whisk in the remaining ingredients. Transfer the Nuoc Cham to a serving bowl.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Lightly brush the grill and the beef rolls with oil. Arrange the rolls on the grill with at least 1 inch between them and grill over moderate heat, turning often to prevent burning, until firm and just cooked through, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle the rolls with cilantro and mint and serve warm with the Nuoc Cham for dipping. Make ahead: The Nuoc Cham can be refrigerated overnight.