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Vietnamese Kebabs with Sugarcane Skewers, Dipping Sauce, and Lettuce Cups

Lettuce wraps, sugarcane skewers, and add-ins such as lemongrass make tasty bundles bursting with the flavors of Southeast Asia. Sugarcane adds a hint of sweetness and an authentic touch, but wooden skewers make a fine stand-in -- just soak them in water for 20 minutes before using.

  • Prep:
  • Total Time:
  • Yield: Serves 12


  • For the dipping sauce:
  • 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice-wine vinegar (not seasoned)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Thai chile
  • For the kebabs:
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 recipe Ground-Meat Mix (about 1 3/4 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lemongrass, pale-green parts only
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Thai or regular basil
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped Thai chile
  • 12 skewers (5 inches each) fresh sugarcane
  • 1 head Boston lettuce, leaves separated
  • Garnish: fresh mint, Thai or regular basil, and cilantro


  1. Make the dipping sauce: Mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  2. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack in top third of oven. Make the kebabs: Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Gently mix together meat, lemongrass, basil, cilantro, and chile. Form meat into 12 narrow loaves (about 1/4 cup each), shaping each around a sugarcane skewer, leaving 1 inch exposed; transfer to baking sheet.

  3. Bake for 11 minutes. Heat broiler. Broil until deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Discard garlic from sauce. Place kebabs in lettuce leaves. Garnish with herbs. Serve with dipping sauce.

Cook's Notes

Uncooked kebabs can be frozen for up to 1 month (freeze on parchment-lined baking sheets until firm, then transfer to resealable plastic bags). Thaw in refrigerator overnight, then proceed with step 3. Dipping sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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