Chargrilled capsicums stuffed with pork and Lao herbs

Chargrilled capsicums stuffed with pork and Lao herbs

Luke Nguyen's Greater Mekong
Stuart Scott

I saw these being grilled at the night markets. When I asked the cook what they were stuffed with, he simply said, “Moo". I thought he was trying to explain the contents by making the sound of a cow — but in Lao, ‘moo’ means pork, which gave me a bit of a giggle. I noticed the cooks laid banana leaves on the hot grill, then placed the stuffed capsicums on top to stop them burning. The banana leaf also imparted a great fragrance to the dish — genius! If you can’t find padek, use the pungent Vietnamese fermented anchovy sauce instead, known as ‘mam nem’.


Quantity Ingredient
3 lemongrass stems, chopped, white part only
4 red asian shallots, sliced
2 red bird’s eye chillies, sliced
500g minced pork
1 tablespoon caster sugar
3 spring onions, ­finely sliced
1 handful dill, chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, ­finely sliced
1 tablespoon see method for ingredients
2 tablespoons padek or mam nem
4 large yellow banana capsicums
2 banana leaves, cut into 20 cm x 30 cm rectangles

Sticky rice

Quantity Ingredient
400g glutinous rice, soaked in cold water overnight


  1. To make the sticky rice, drain and rinse the soaked rice in cold water three times. Pour water into the bottom of your steamer and line the steaming section with muslin. Place the rinsed rice on the cloth, cover with the lid and set on the stovetop over high heat. Steam for 15 …minutes, then †flip the rice over. Cook for another 5–15… minutes, or until the rice becomes translucent; take a small bite to check it is soft and chewy. (Sticky rice generally takes about 20–30 minutes of steaming all up.)
  2. Using a large mortar and pestle, pound the lemongrass, shallot and chilli to a rough paste. Now add the pork, sugar and a pinch of sea salt and pound again.
  3. Add the spring onion, dill and kaffir lime leaves and pound well. Now add the fish sauce and half the padek or mam nem and pound again.
  4. Working from the top of each capsicum, use a sharp knife to slice down one side to the stem. Remove the seeds by scraping them out with a small spoon, then discard.
  5. Stuff the capsicums with the pork mixture and set aside.
  6. Heat a barbecue chargrill or chargrill pan to medium–high. Place the banana leaves on top of the grill to stop the capsicums burning. Chargrill the capsicums on top of the banana leaves for 7–8 minutes per side, basting them with the remaining padek or mam nem as they cook.
  7. Serve hot, with sticky rice.
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