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Also known as wild pepper, la lot, chaplu; In Cantonese: 'Ka Lao' ; In Malay:  Kadok ; In Thai : Cha Plu ; In Lao : phak i leut or pak eelerd ; In Vietnam : Piper lolot – lá l; Sirih Dudu, Karuk, Karok, Daun Kaduk, Vegetable Pepper, Betel Pepper

This plant is often mistaken for its cousin Piper betel leaf plant.

Piper sermentosum syn. Chavia sermentosum

F. Piperaceae

From NSW Dept of Primary Industries:

General information

A native plant to Vietnam and Thailand, la lot is related to black pepper. It is sometimes called “betel leaves”. However, it should not be confused with Piper betel, the leaves of which are chewed with “betel nut” (actually the seed of a palm) and lime as a stimulant in parts of South East Asia and Papua New Guinea.

Cooking tips

La lot is somewhat pungent and spicy in flavour with a more delicate texture than P. betel. In countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Laos it is used raw sliced into salads. It is also steamed as a vegetable or often used as wrappers for small snacks.

From Isabel Shipard newsletter:

Betel leaf (Piper sermentosum)

The plant can grow to 60cm tall, with large glossy leaves. It is a hardy perennial which has medicinal and culinary uses.

The leaves have a mild pungent flavour, and are used raw, and cooked.

A traditional way of preparing the leaves is as a wrapping for spiced minced meat and other morsels. In Thailand, these wraps are a favourite snack, using an assortment of fillings, like peanuts, shrimps, shallots with lime and raw ginger.

Because the leaves are so attractive, they are often used as a base for decorating platters, with foods arranged on top. The white flower spikes develop into seed/fruit that looks a little like a green/brown mulberry when ripe and can be eaten; it is a tasty morsel of sweet jelly-like pulp.

Betel leaf Wrap
Betel leaf Wrap (Piper sermentosum)

Betel Leaf Wrap Recipe:
500g peeled and chopped prawns
100g crushed toasted peanuts
300g sprouts
Thumb sized piece of ginger finely diced
Juice from half a lime
Two sprigs of spring onions finely copped
Half a cup of chopped coriander leaves
5 drops of sesame oil
1 rounded teaspoon palm sugar warmed to melted stage
1 cup cooked rice
Fresh Betel Leaves

Steamed version: Combine all ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly before scooping onto betel leaves. Wrap approximately 1 teaspoon of mixture in each leaf and place in steamer. Steam lightly and serve with dipping sauces.
Raw leaf version: Lightly cook ginger, peanuts and spring onions and add remaining ingredients for only a few minutes until prawns are cooked. Add coriander leaves and wrap in younger raw leaves a teaspoon at a time.
Medicinal uses: In Malaysian culture the leaves are used for headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In other parts of the world like Thailand and China the roots are crushed and blended with salt to relieve toothache. In Indonesia leaves are chewed with betel nut, and the masticated juice swallowed for relief from coughs and asthma. Also, it is valued as a natural antibiotic and drunk as a tea regularly to benefit health. Make a tea with 10 large leaves (finely chopped) to 1 cup of boiling water, steep for 5-10 minutes. The tea is traditionally drunk to keep the body free of unpleasant smells of perspiration and menstrual odour. The herb is also valued as a tea for keeping teeth and gums strong and healthy.

20.12.12

Finally had enough Betel Leaf to think about using them for culinary purposes.

I've made some parcels for Christmas day for the family BBQ breakfast. Based it on a recipe given by someone on FB - half and half beef and pork mince, garlic, lemon grass, finely chopped red onion, fish sauce, chilli, parsley, red amaranth for colour and texture.

I found I couldn't fold in the sides so just rolled them and pinned with a toothpick.

They're in the freezer and hopefully will come out looking ok on the day - so far they are keeping their bright green colour just fine.

Ate some for lunch and they were quite nice, not mind blowing, but quite good eating. A bit salty for me but I expect others will like that. Quite a chilli kick too which might not suit some.

Information from Scott:

BETEL LEAF

Betel Leaf Betel Leaf

Wild Pepper, Kadok, Sirih Dudu, Karuk, Karok, Daun Kaduk, Vegetable Pepper, Betel Pepper

Piper sermentosum syn. Chavia sermentosum

F. Piperaceae

Description

A very attractive spice, fast growing, perennial, evergreen to 1 metre, with creeping stem branches, dark green, glossy, heart-shaped leaves to 15cm long. White catkin flowers turn a green/brown when mature.

Propagation is easy by root division or cuttings, preferably taken in spring or summer. Betel leaf requires a rich soil and prefers a semi-shade position. It makes a good under storey plant. Regular feeding and watering will keep it growing very lush. Although betel leaf is considered a tropical to subtropical plant, it will adapt to cold conditions if given a warm spot in winter, and could be grown in a large pot, and shifted to a cosy position in the cold months of the year.

Betel Leaf
Betel Leaf
Actions:

digestive, stimulant, expectorant, carminative, antibacterial

Medicinal Uses

The plant has many traditional medicinal uses. Malaysians use the leaves for headaches, arthritis and joint pain. In Thailand and China the roots are crushed and blended with salt to relieve toothache. In Indonesia leaves are chewed with betel nut, and the masticated juice swallowed for relief from coughs and asthma. A lady rang the farm seeking a betel leaf plant, and shared how it is used in her homeland of Indonesia. She said it is valued as a natural antibiotic, and drunk as a tea daily to benefit health. This tea is also used to keep the body free of unpleasant smells of perspiration and menstrual odour. She said, it is also valued by people (particularly senior citizens) to keep teeth and gums strong and healthy. To make the tea, take 2 cups of water and bring to the boil in a saucepan. Drop in 7 mature size leaves, and simmer until the liquid has evaporated down to approximately one glass. Strain and drink daily.

Culinary Uses

Betel leaf is a popular spice in south east Asian cooking, with the leaves being used raw and cooked. A traditional way of preparing the leaves is as a wrapping for spiced minced meat and other morsels. In Thailand, these wraps are a favourite snack, using an assortment of fillings, like peanuts, shrimps, shallots with lime and raw ginger. Leaves are also used in a herb and rice salad called ‘nasi kerabu’. Because the leaves are so attractive, they are often used as a base for decorating platters, with foods arranged on top. The white flower spikes develop into seed/fruit that looks a little like a green/brown mulberry when ripe and can be eaten; it is a tasty morsel of sweet jelly-like pulp.

From GARAMUT WORDPRESS:

This tidy little article clearly explains the confusion between actual Betel Leaf and "Betel" nut, actually Areca palm nut (Areca catechu).

What exactly is Betelnut?

Betelnut SignI remember during high school I caught a PMV from Lae to Mt. Hagen in Papua New Guinea. In the same bus was a small group of American volunteers who were helping to build a school in Goroka.

When we stopped at Umi Bridge/Market to take on extra passengers and refreshments, I bought four piles of buai, threw them into my bilum and hopped back onto the bus.

I remember chewing a couple then realising that all the volunteers were defensively staring at me – I offered them some and they absolutely refused. One of them boldly asked me, “Isn’t that illegal?”.

I laughed, explained to them what betelnut was and eventually got one of them to try one. So, this post is for all of you who may have heard about betelnut but aren’t too sure what it is exactly.

The Areca nut is the seed of the Areca palm (Areca catechu), a straight and graceful palm tree growing in most tropical countries.

The areca nut is not a true nut but rather a drupe. It is commercially available in dried, cured and fresh forms. While fresh, the husk is green and the nut inside is so soft that it can easily be cut with an average knife. In the ripe fruit the husk becomes yellow or orange and, as it dries, the fruit inside hardens to a wood-like consistency. At that stage the areca nut can only be sliced using a special scissor-like cutter (known as Sarota in Hindi, Paakkuvetti in Malayalam and Aḍakattera in Telugu).

Usually a few slices of the nut are wrapped in a Betel leaf along with lime and may include clove, cardamom, catechu (kattha), etc. for extra flavouring. Betel leaf has a fresh, peppery taste, but it can be bitter depending on the variety.

Buai or betelnut at the marketAreca nuts are chewed with betel leaf for their effects as a mild stimulant, causing a hot sensation in the body, heightened alertness and sweating, although the effects vary from person to person. The areca nut contains tannin, gallic acid, a fixed oil gum, a little terpineol, lignin, various saline substances and three main alkaloids: Arecoline, Arecain and Guracine which have vasocontricting properties.

In English, the areca nut is also widely known as Betel nut (or “Betelnut”), because it is mostly chewed along with Betel, the leaf of a vine belonging to the Piperaceae family. The term “Betel nut” is technically incorrect, for the betel vine produces no nuts, and this inaccurate term creates quite a bit of confusion regarding the discernment between the nut and the leaf.

The muddling between the areca nut and the betel leaf, by calling the nut “betel nut”, is restricted to the languages of the colonizing powers, like English, French, Dutch, Portuguese and German. This lack of accuracy is likely a legacy of the colonial era in which chewing the mixture was restricted to “the natives”. In the languages of the places where the Areca nut is traditionally chewed there is a clear and separate term for the areca nut and another for the betel leaf. This clear distinction is important in societies where both the areca nut and the betel leaf have a ceremonial and even sacred value. Furthermore, there is commonly a specific verb for the activity of chewing both of them together.

Chewing betelnut and daka.In Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, fresh areca nut, betel leaf or ‘fruit leaf’ (daka in PNG) and lime are sold on street corners. In these countries, dried or flavoured areca nut is not popular.

Areca nut chewing has recently been introduced into Vanuatu where it is growing in popularity, especially in the northern islands of the country. In Guam, betel and areca nut chewing is a social pastime as a means to extend friendship, and can be found in many, if not most, large gatherings as part of the food display.

Regular betel chewing causes the teeth and gums to be stained orange/red, a color that was formerly considered attractive in certain cultures. In Telugu poetry the slightly red-stained lips of a young woman chewing areca nut and betel are considered a mark of beauty. It is believed that regular chewing reduce the incidence of cavities, and toothpastes were once produced containing betel extracts. However, the increase in mouth ulcers and gum deterioration caused by areca nut and betel chewing may outweigh any positive effects.

According to traditional Ayurvedic medicine chewing areca nut and betel leaf is a good remedy against bad breath. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) regards the chewing of betel and areca nut to be a known human carcinogen. Certain studies have sought to prove that regular chewers of betel leaf and areca nut have a higher risk of damaging their gums and acquiring cancer of the mouth and of the stomach.

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Comment by Dave Riley on January 15, 2016 at 9:29

Yes: use them. The problem with minced meat 'balls' or rissoles is you have to often add grains (and sometimes egg) to compact them so they don't fall apart when they are cooked. These leaves solve that issue in a fold. Just harvest - dob in some flavoured mince -- and roll.

Fry up real well.

The leaves keep their shape. No tearing. No unravelling. 

And you get tasty morsels.

I found that if I fried the overlapped side first there were no issues at all. 

Simple template: minced garlic and spring onion plus herb of choice plus spice[s] (if used) plus preferred minced meat. 

Comment by Lissa on January 15, 2016 at 5:29

Must admit I haven't used mine to cook with for ages...and they are going great guns. To the point where I had to get rid of a great mass of them.

Lizzie - did you still want some rooted pieces? We can sort that out now that you are back on board.

Comment by Dave Riley on January 14, 2016 at 20:00

My Pepper Leafs were in such a number that I was able to harvest them to cook with.

I used them Bo La Lot  style to wrap  minced lamb using the standard  lemon grass and spring onion recipe usually deployed for pork. 

I also fried -- rather than grilled -- the wraps....

While I've eaten the dish in Vietnamese restaurants -- I was very impressed how easy the wrap business was to prepare and cook with. 

Easier than many meatballs/koftas in many ways....and if you have been bought up on dolmades and soaking and wrapping with (grape) vine leaves(as I have) ...the Pepper Leaf, in comparison,  is easy peasy to work with.

So I do recommend growing and using the plant. 

You could use any minced meat blend and do it without the angst of the 'shape' falling apart.

Comment by Lizzie Sabo on February 27, 2014 at 9:09
Hi Lisa sorry I am at Carseldine and more than happy to collect.
I am still Woking on how to update my profile lol getting there.
Thank you so much for getting back to me ;)
Comment by Lissa on February 27, 2014 at 5:00

I should have said free rooted cuttings ;)

Comment by Lissa on February 27, 2014 at 5:00

You are more than welcome to some rooted cuttings from me Lizzie.

Your profile page just says you are in Queensland - no suburb. I'm at Strathpine. Are you able to collect some?

Comment by Lizzie Sabo on February 26, 2014 at 17:00
Hi Lisa can you please tell me where I can buy Betel plant as I have found a thai recepie that I would love to try.
Many thanks
Lizzie
Comment by Lissa on December 21, 2012 at 6:06

Another good way to get-our-greens-in-us. Not sure how much nutrient there is left by the time I fry them cooked though lol.

I'm really surprised the chooks don't eat them - thought they ate anything.

So many of these plants I've been introduced to as growing well here in sub-tropical Brisbane need a bit of getting used to. They're not the traditional veg we grew up with. I know I really have to push myself to give them a go sometimes. Ceylon Spinach for instance, just can't come at that stuff but other people (Carolyn!) love it.

Comment by Lissa on May 10, 2012 at 5:24

I have eaten quite a few of these beautiful leaves in the pic above :) Sliced up some nice steak into strips and stir fried it, stir fried some veg with sweet chilli sauce and wrapped the lot up in the leaves and ate them.

Very nice too.

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