Banh Mi is all the rage these days, right? Have you noticed, every new restaurant, or even new menu for that matter, is featuring its own rendition of the Vietnamese baguette sandwich. And why not, I mean, they’re delicious, and different. Not your typical ham sandwich, and devoid of white sliced bread and American singles… This little sandwich is spiked with an intriguing combination of pickled vegetables, sweet and savory components, and the perhaps nontraditional, addition of a horseradish based spread. The banh Mi is a sandwich based on a richly flavored pork, that is quickly seared and caramelized, then layered on a chewy, french baguette, lightly spread with a creamy sauce/condiment, then topped with crisp vegetables. All together, the result is a deeply satisfying light and refreshing sandwich. As with all my new recipe research, I ran through countless recipes, and read many menus, looking at how one sandwich differed from another, looking for inspiration for my version. I ultimately decided [almost] entirely on one recipe. Fro the immensely entertaining and gifts ladies at Food52. I love getting their emails once or twice a week, highlighting their recipe challenges and new tricks, and anecdotes on what they’re cooking. Always inspiring to try something new. The recipe for their Banh Mi featured on their site looked not only tasty, but slightly nontraditional, and totally approachable : translation: I could do it on a week night. That’s the winner. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, and made some changes, and additions/substitutions, however the original recipe for which I was inspired can be found HERE. Thanks again to Merrill and Amanda and to the original recipe contributor Monkeymom, well done my friend
Pork Banh Mi Sandwiches
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a gazillion times. When it comes to flavorings, spiciness, and additional condiments… do as you please! You can easily omit the shaved onion, or substitute scallions, or nix the horseradish and use mayonnaise, or cut back on the jalapeno if you please (however I strongly urge you not too… haha, I’m a heat addict) Also, something I figured out after the fact: there tends to be a pretty hefty bread to meat/veggie ratio, so if you want to, you could hollow out the baguette just a little bit, before assembling the sandwiches. This may make them a little easier to eat, and overall help the balance of the sandwich, I’ll probably try this next time. However, the chewy baguette is delicious, so if it doesn’t bother you,forget I even said anything
1 pound pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons Fish sauce
1 tablespoon Agave nectar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 green onion, minced
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 French bread, sliced lengthwise, and then into quarters (or smaller for smaller sliders)
red leaf lettuce
peeled and sliced cucumber
thinly sliced or shaved white onion
chopped (or torn) fresh mint
pickled carrot and radishes (Recipe below)
Horseradish Sauce (Recipe below)
Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap, on a large cutting board. I use my polling pic, but if you have a meat mallet, more power to ya. Literally.
Mix marinade ingredients from fish sauce to crushed pepper. Add marinade to the meat, in a large shallow dish. Make sure all pieces of meat are coated in marinade. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
Preheat a skillet, very hot. Med-high to high. You want to cook the meat very quickly. The result will be a rich dark color on the outside, and caramelizing it will enhance the flavor. Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Work in batches, a few slices of meat at a time. Not too many, or you drop the temperature of the pan, and then they cook slower. If this happens it will be more difficult for you to get that great sear we’re looking for. The pan may smoke a lot, you you should turn on your hood fan. Also, each side should cook a few minutes, then flip and finish cooking on that side for a couple minutes. Continues this way to cook the whole batch. If the pan starts to smoke too much, that means residual marinade is sticking and burning, which will probably burn onto the meat, which is not a good thing. To prevent this, just take a wet cloth, and brush the pan off after each batch, then add a tad more oil before searing more meat.
To assemble sandwiches, spread a little horseradish sauce on the top side of your sliced baguette then on the bottom half, layer a couple slices of meat (allowing those juices to soak into the bread–YUM). On top of the meat, assemble a little piece of lettuce, some pickled carrots/radishes, a few thin slices of shaved white onion, a few thin slices of cucumber, and a sprinkling of both chopped cilantro and fresh mint. Take some of the thinly sliced jalapeno and stick them onto the horseradish coated top slice of bead. (This just helps to hold them in place.) Also, as a warning, this sandwich is not necessarily an easy one to eat, but I trust you’ll figure it out.
Pickled Veggies Recipe, courtesy of MonkeyMom
Pickled Carrots and Radishes
* 1/4 pound baby carrots, peeled (**I used regular carrots, sliced into oblong coins)
* 1 bunch red radishes, preferably breakfast radishes (daikon are more traditional. I just think red radishes are beautiful.)
* 1/2 cup water
* 1 cup apple cider vinegar
* 1 tablespoon salt
* 2 tablespoons sugar
Slice carrots and radishes into quarters (or sixths for thicker guys) lengthwise. Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Let stand as little as an hour or up to overnight. They keep for several days.
Okay I know this is pretty involved, so try and keep up.
4 T Sour Cream
1.5 T Fresh grated horseradish
Okay friends, hope you have a fun time making these little guys. I did, and trust me, you’ll enjoy eating them… Don’t forget, lots of jalapeno.