Mediterranean people use vine leaves to make a parcel of minced lamb whereas the Vietnamese use lolot leaves to wrap around meat, though never lamb as they cannot stand the smell.
The flowering vine, also known as piper lolot, is called lá lá»‘t in Vietnamese and is endemic to Indochina.
Easy to grow in the garden, especially the edge of a pond or boggy soil, it is commonly used to wrap beef, pork, crab, fish or duck for grilling, to make fish, tortoise, eel or frog soup, to stir-fry with beef, pork, fish or chicken's innards, or to boil and combine with fish sauce, garlic and ginger.
The warm and pungent leaves, as well as other parts of the lolot plant, have therapeutic properties and can fix an upset tummy, ease pain and inflammation, cool the body, and do much besides.
Here are some lolot remedies for assorted ailments as given by Dr Vu Nguyen Khiet and the natural therapists Quoc Trung, Dinh Cong Bay, Kieu Ba Long and Nhu Ta.
- For sweaty palms or soles, pluck and wash a whole lolot plant, roots and all. Separate the leaves, stem and roots, and leave out to dry in the open until they fade. Put the roots in a pan over a high flame to finish drying them out, and add the sliced stem and leaves. Keep cooking until they become yellow and aromatic, but be sure not to blacken them. Then place the pan on clean ground to harmonize the yin and the yang. After the lolot pieces have cooled down, they can be stored in a jar. Every day, to prepare the medicine, put 30g of the dried mixture in a pot, pour in 500ml of hot water and cook for 15 minutes. Drink only the liquid, and throw away the residue. Do this for seven days, stop for five days, and resume for seven more days. The 19-day regimen should be repeated after six months.
Alternatively, rinse and crush 50g fresh lolot pepper and 50g fresh lá ngải cứu (mugwort or common wormwood). Place them in a pot, add one teaspoon of salt and two bowls of water, bring to the boil and turn off the heat. When it has cooled slightly, soak the hands and feet in the liquid until it is cool, and wipe down with a towel.
- To warm the stomach and get the gastric juices working properly, put 10 fresh lolot leaves and two bowls of water in a pot, bring gently to the boil, and let simmer until the water has reduced by half. Drink the beverage instead of normal tea through the day.
- For spinal pain in the elderly in cold weather, dry some lolot leaves in the open air and store them in a jar for use as and when needed. Whenever the spine is painful, cook 10g dry leaves in 500ml water and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Drink the tea during the day.
As an alternative, boil the stem, flowers and roots of one lolot plant along with 20g dry or 50g fresh lolot leaves in a pot with two bowls of water. Soak the hands and legs in the liquid until it is cool, then wipe off with a towel.
- For vaginitis, or inflammation of the vagina, place 50g lolot peppers, 40g saffron and 20g alum in a pot, and cover well with water. Bring it to the boil, continue boiling for 10 minutes, then lower the flame and let the mixture simmer for 15 minutes. Take out a spoonful of the liquid, let the impurities settle, and use the clear liquid to wash the vaginal canal. Reboil the remaining liquid and let the steam penetrate the vaginal canal until the liquid cools.
- For diarrhea, simply cook 10 lolot leaves in 300ml water over a high flame until the water has reduced by half, and drink it.
- For the sniffles, and for sleeplessness in old people, put 20 washed and chopped lolot peppers, 50g rice, half an onion, one teaspoon of chopped garlic, some sliced spring onions, and 2g thinly sliced ginger in a pot of 150ml water. Bring to the boil, continue boiling for 15 minutes, and season with salt and sugar. Then turn off the stove and stir in one beaten chook egg. Serve the porridge hot, and clean off sweat with a towel.
- For gout or backache, place 100g chopped pork or goat ribs in 500ml water and boil for 20 minutes. Add 150g washed and sliced lolot pepper, continue to cook for 15 minutes, and season with a sprinkling of sugar and salt. Turn off the heat and stir in one teaspoon of chopped garlic. Eat the dish twice daily for seven days.
- To ease backache from poor blood circulation, rinse and cut 100g of beef into thin slices, sprinkle on some spices and sear the meat in a frying pan. Add 100g of chopped lolot pepper, stir for one minute, and season with sugar and salt to taste. A word of warning: people with constipation should avoid this backache remedy as the ingredients worsen the condition.