In the past, the water buffalo (Vietnamese: trâu) was raised by the farmers mainly to plow the rice fields in preparation for a new harvest, so, the Vietnamese did not consume much water buffalo meat. In modern days, the cattle breed is raised for meat like other livestock. Usually, when cooking buffalo meat, the Vietnamese often pair with lolot leaves (Piper lolot), onions or water celery.
However, in Quảng Ngãi province, the Hrê ethnic people cook buffalo meat with special leaves from Zanthoxylum nitidum plant, or shiny-leaf prickly-ash. Zanthoxylum nitidum is a prickly, erect or scrambling shrub, and is known as sưng (common name) or xuyên tiêu (medicinal name) in Vietnamese. The plant is native to mountainous regions and forest edges in northern and central Vietnam. In Vietnamese traditional medicine, its roots are used to kill worms, cure several diseases like cholera, asthma, tonic, fever and its fruits are used to cure toothache and rheumatism. Apart from that, young leaves are used in buffalo stir fry. In fact, the Hrê people has a much more complicated consommé-like dish (named thịt trâu xào xà bần) which includes buffalo meat, blood, some offal organs, aromatic litsea peppercorns, and of course the prickly-ash leaves. Shiny-leaf prickly-ash leaves have some minty taste and aromatic flavor.
Marinate buffalo meat pieces with pricklyash leaves, minced garlic, black pepper and some salt.
In a frying pan, heat some oil and add marinated buffalo meat, and stir well until the meat is cooked. Turn off the heat and some extra pricklyash leaves, some herbs, stir slightly and pour onto a serving dish.