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A plate of nem chua (Vietnamese fermented beef)

A plate of nem

A little bit of (sourness + sweetness + spiciness + garlickiness + herbiness + crunchiness +  chewiness) = a lot of yumminess


Nem chua (Vietnamese cured beef) & lá chanh (lemon leaves)

Nem is one of my favorite snacks. Before a trip back to Viet Nam, I usually contacted my uncle ahead of time so he could buy nem that would be ready to eat by the time I land. It’s an incredibly addictive food, with its mix of sweetness, sourness, and spiciness and the blend of flavors with rau răm (Vietnamese coriander), garlic and chili pepper.

I have been making a lot of nem chua lately. It’s often made with pork, but I actually prefer making it with beef (and hence the title is beef instead of pork). In the latest batch, I wrapped a ball of just mixed meat in

1) half of a lemon leaf and

2) 1-2 plum leaf(ves)

before wrapping it in 7 layers of banana leaves to let the meat ferment over a couple of days.

A pleasant surprise finding was that lemon leaf went incredibly well with nem chua. It really enhanced nem flavors. Plum leaves were too subtle to make a difference, unfortunately.

nem chua

Anyway, just thought I should share this finding so you can add a little bit of lemon leaf (you don’t need a full or half a lemon leaf…a few thin strips will do) to your next bite of nem in addition to the usual rau răm, garlic and chili pepper.