Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Banh Mi

This month's issue of Saveur is the sandwich issue. It really is as fantastic as it sounds. I was happy to see a recipe for banh mi because it is probably my favorite sandwich in the world. The best one I've ever had was from a cart in Hoi An, Vietnam. The lady that owns it (above in red) is a true master of her craft and is an evil genius because she sometimes tops her bahn mi with a fried egg.

To go with our delicious banh mi sandwiches, I made a little side salad dressed with nouc cham. Nouc cham is a Vietnamese staple that you can use as a dipping sauce or salad dressing. It is the delicious Vietnamese combo of sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter. You only need a little drizzle of this stuff because it packs a serious punch. I would highly recommend making the nouc cham because we were drizzling it over our sanwiches too.

Banh Mi
Recipe from

Serves 4
For the slaw:
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ cup julienned carrots
½ cup julienned daikon radish 
Kosher salt, to taste

For the seasoned pork:
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped yellow onion
12 oz. ground pork
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. Asian-style hot sauce 
½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
½ tsp. red food coloring (I left this out.)
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

Rest of the sandwich:
4 10″ Vietnamese baguettes or Portuguese rolls, split
½ cup mayonnaise
8 ⅛″-thick slices Vietnamese-style pork roll (cha lua) or bologna
8 ⅛″-thick slices Vietnamese-style salami or ham
½ cup cilantro sprigs
½ medium English cucumber, cut lengthwise into 4 thick slices
Asian-style chile oil, to taste
Make the slaw: Bring vinegar, sugar, and ½ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat; transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in carrots, radish, and salt, and set the slaw aside for 30 minutes. Drain.

Make the seasoned pork: Heat oil in a 10″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add pork, hoisin, 2 tsp. soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, five-spice powder, food coloring, onion and garlic powders, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until browned, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat oven to 400°. Place baguettes on a baking sheet and spread 1 tbsp. mayonnaise inside both halves. Bake until hot and slightly crisped, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and divide seasoned pork evenly between baguettes. Top each with 2 slices pork roll, 2 slices salami, 1 tsp. soy sauce, ¼ of the cilantro, and 1 cucumber slice. Season with more pepper and chile oil, and top with the slaw. Close sandwiches.
Nouc Cham
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 cloves finely chopped garlic
1-2 finely chopped chillies
6 tablespoons fish sauce
6 tablespoons water
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Mix all of the ingredients together and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Keep covered the refrigerator.