Vietnamese Stuffed Grape Leaves
We first tried these at Huong Que, also known as The Four Sisters Restaurant. It's located in Eden Center, a shopping center in Falls Church that is chock full of Vietnamese businesses. I discovered a recipe for them online and decided to give it a try. Who knew these would be so easy to make! And they freeze well, so you can make up a bunch of them, freeze 'em and have several quick meals ready to cook up. The recipe is located in Recipe*Zaar, a great collection of online recipes that have been added by regular folk like us. They also have a section where you can create your own online recipe box for recipes you find. This recipe for the grape leaves is here. To begin you need to get your grape leaves. They usually come in a jar with some brine so you'll want to rinse them. The recipe calls for the ingredients (garlic, ginger, scallion, and cilantro) to be minced or chopped. I found this to be a bit time consuming so I tried cutting these up into little chunks and tossing them into a food processor along with the rest of the ingredients (sans the ground beef). A quick pulse or two (or three) later, everything is minced. I add this to the ground beef in a large bowl and mix it together by hand. That's the only way to really be sure everything gets mixed well.
Then you take your rinsed grape leaves and begin to roll. Place a grape leaf, vein side up with the stem closest to you, on your cutting board. Take a thumb sized bit of the mixture and place it on the grape leaf just in front of the little piece of stem.
Next, fold over the part of the leaf closest to you over the beef. Don't be afraid to press the leaf tight against the beef. It will help it make a nice tight roll. Next, fold over the sides of the leaf. Try to fold over enough to create a straight edge up the rest of the leaf, it'll make it easier to roll.
Then roll the leaf up going away from you. You can tuck in the sides along the way if you need to. It will help create a prettier looking roll. And don't forget to put a little pressure on it so things stay nice and tight.
The end result will be nice little packets of beefy goodness. At this point you can grill them or freeze them. We usually grill some that night. After all, they're so good, who could resist.
The recipe includes a fish sauce based dipping sauce that adds a bit of zing. So be sure to mix up a batch of it as well.