Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bánh mì - My Bastardized Version!

Look, before you start throwing expletives at me about this not being anything near an original bánh mì, the yummy Vietnamese sandwich with heavy French influences, please let me explain. A few days ago, I was craving for a bánh mì but I was not anywhere near a shop that sells one. So, I looked around the house for ingredients that would help me assemble the Vietnamese sub, which became quite an exercise in resourcefulness.

OK, so here is what we know about goes into a bánh mì:
- Baguette (a lighter and crispier version with the addition of rice flour)
- pickled daikon and carrots
- fresh cilantro, scallions, cucumber and jalapeño
- mayonnaise and butter
- pork pâté
- grilled/roasted pork belly

I did not have most of the above but we'll make do.......


All I had was a seeded bulkie roll, ground pork meat, mayo, cucumber, scallion, cilantro, carrots and daikon. So I got down to work. First I had to pickle the carrots and daikon, which I did by mixing the following together and immersing the julienned carrots and daikon in the resulting liquid for a few hours (overnight if possible):
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoons salt

Setting that aside in the refrigerator, I turned my attention to the pork. To give the pork some Vietnamese flavors, I cooked it with onions and garlic and seasoned with fish sauce and palm sugar, giving it the distinctive sweet-salty-sour flavor. Balancing those flavors are important and you need to taste the pork as you cook it. make sure that the pork renders all its fat out. After scooping the pork out, mix the remaining fat on the pan with some mayo. That would be the spread for the roll.

Now to put it all together. I like to toast my breads with some garlic butter and here is no different. For the next step, spread the pork fat-mayo mix onto one side of the roll and scoop the pork onto the roll. Add the pickled carrots and daikon and top it all with fresh cilantro and cucumber. To add some spiciness, use either fresh jalapeño/Thai bird chilli or a squirt of sriracha. If you have some lettuce lying around, why not add that as well. To finish, I'll give the assembled sandwich a quick squirt of fish sauce. I now have my own version of banh mi. It may not have all the right components but it sure contains all the flavors of Vietnam with a sprinkling of French influences in it. This is, after all, my own quick and dirty version of banh mi. Enjoy!

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