If you couldn’t tell from previous posts, I have a strong affinity for Asian flavors. Love that deeply satisfying balance of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. Love fish sauce, lemongrass, bird’s eye chiles, sriracha, tamari — to name just a few.
Always crave a subtle kick of heat and enjoy making my own hot sauce, be it from fresh or dried chiles. I typically have a few bottles on hand, as I’m always experimenting, trying to find that perfect balance of heat and flavor (not too hot, but not too wimpy). Nothing like that euphoric endorphin rush you get from spicy food.
One more thing that I really dig, a sandwich with a nice ratio of vegetables to meat.
If you feel the same, a [Vietnamese] bánh mi is just the sandwich you’ve been searching for. It’s all of the above wrapped up in a neat package on a crispy baguette.
It’s a fully loaded sandwich with all the fixins’. A smorgasbord of flavors and ingredients.
The great thing about making a bánh mi is that you can load up on your favorite components. No skimping like when you order out (Come on, put a few more vegetables on there. I demand more than a sad looking slice of way-out-of-season tomato and a wilted piece of iceberg lettuce.).
One of these days (sooner rather than later, hopefully) I will set foot in Asia. Until then, I’ll settle for one (or two) of these…
The Bánh Mi Breakdown…
–Bread: Short of making your own, this may be the most difficult component. You want a really fresh, crispy baguette, which is next to impossible to find, at least here in the United States. Use the best baguette you can find. I toasted mine to get it nice and crispy on the outside.
–Liver pâté: Typically, pork pâté goes on a bánh mi, but I used the chicken liver pâté that I made the other day.
–Meat: There are many variations (sliced pork, meatballs, shrimp, sardines, etc.). I used pork tenderloin, thinly sliced and marinated in a combination of lemongrass, fish sauce, soy, garlic, shallot, and a few other ingredients. Yum!
–Other essentials: chiles, cilantro, cucumber, and scallions
–Hot sauce/sriracha: Yes, please.
The sriracha is homemade. I’ll share the recipe at a later date, still tweaking a bit, almost there…
This one’s mostly mild Fresno peppers with just one or two hot peppers (Thai bird, serrano, or jalapeno — for a little kick of heat). In the past, I used mostly Thai bird chiles, and man on man, was that hot. This version is considerably more tame, much lower on the Scoville scale.
1 large or 2 demi baguettes
Liver pâté (pork or chicken); see post for chicken liver pâté
cucumber, thinly sliced on a bias
Marinated Pork Tenderloin (recipe below)
Pickled carrot/daikon (recipe below)
chiles (such as Thai bird, jalapeno, Fresno), thinly sliced
scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
few sprigs of cilantro
Toast the baguette until crispy on the outside. Slice in half (but don’t cut all the way through) and scoop out some of the bread in the middle. Spread a layer of pâté on the bottom, followed by the sliced cucumbers. Top with slices of pork tenderloin. Layer on the pickled carrot and daikon, chiles, scallions, and cilantro. Drizzle with sriracha.
Marinated Pork Tenderloin
Adapted from the Cooking Channel
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 tablespoon dark soy
1 tablespoon palm (coconut) sugar
1 stalk lemongrass, finely grated on a microplane
1 Thai chile, chopped
juice of half a lime
1 pound pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon oil
Combine the fish sauce, garlic, shallot, soy, sugar, lemongrass, Thai chile and lime juice. Add the pork and mix to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.
Heat a tablespoon oil in a wok. When smoking hot, add the pork and a few tablespoons of the marinade. Saute a few minutes until cooked through.
Pickled Carrot/Daikon Radish
3/4 cup rice or distilled white vinegar
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar (Most recipes call for a lot more sugar, so adjust according to your taste; I went with 2 tablespoons, but add more if you like.)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 large or 2 medium carrots (*julienned)
1 small or 1/2 large daikon radish (*julienned)
Mix the vinegar, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the julienned carrot and daikon radish, and let sit for 20 minutes.