Pork Banh Mi Baguette Recipe with Caramelized Pork, Vegetables, Pickles
Pork banh mi is a delightful Vietnamese street food dish made by filling a light crisp baguette with caramelised pork, chilli, fresh cucumber, herbs and topped with a pickle made from carrot and mooli (white radish). Can you enjoy this dish at home?
The good news is that you can make this delicious dish at home for a snack, lunch, barbecue meal or as a party food.
Pork banh mi is a delicious unique blend of flavors - sweet, sour, salty, savory in every mouthful, especially as the individual items retain their texture and taste.
The recipe, below, includes one for making the carrot and mooli pickle, but you can use other prepared sauces as well.
The mooli white radish are generally available from Asian supermarkets, framers markets and the larger fresh produce stores. Or you can grow your own.
Ingredients for the caramelized pork
- 4 black peppercorns
- Mayonnaise, to taste
- 6 tablespoons caster sugar
- 100 ml (1/2 cup) Thai fish sauce
- Fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and flattened
- 4 white baguettes, about 15cm (6 inches) in length
- 800 g (1.7 lb) pork belly, skin removed and cut into cubes or thick strips
- 4 spring onions, cut into pieces and crushed with the flat side of a knife
- 1 fresh red chilli, sliced (with or without seeds depending on your preference)
- 1 cucumber, cut in half and then sliced into long sticks lengthwise (you can also include carrot sticks)
Ingredients for the mooli and carrot pickle
- 50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) rice wine vinegar
- 1 carrot cut into short, very thin sticks
- 1 mooli (white radish) cut into very short thin sticks
Method for the mooli and carrot pickle
Combine 1 teaspoon salt, the vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl, and stir to complete dissolve the crystals in the vinegar. Add the vegetables to the bowl and push down to make sure all of the pieces are completely covered with vinegar. Set aside for 1-2 hours, or preferably 1-2 days in the refrigerator to allow the vinegar to infuse into the vegetables.
Method for the caramelized pork
Add the 6 tablespoons of sugar to 4 tablespoons water to a pan and cook over a high heat until the sugar is a rich golden color (do not stir while cooking). Carefully insert the pork cubes into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon to coat each piece, all over, with the caramel mixture.
Then, add just enough water to completely cover the pork pieces. Slowly bring the mixture to a boil. Skim off any residues that float to the surface. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, add the spring onions, fish sauce, garlic, a pinch of salt and the peppercorns. Simmer uncovered, for 20–30 minutes, or until the pork is just tender (don't over-cook).
Remove the pork from the pan and set aside on a plate. Remove the garlic cloves, spring onion pieces from the liquid and discard. Increase the heat and boil the liquid to thicken and reduce its volume (about 10 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the pork back into the pan and mix with a spoon to coat all the pork pieces with the sauce.
Method for assembling the Vietnamese banh mi
Cut the baguette into suitable lengths (about 15 cm or 6 inches; or the length you prefer), Split each section of baguette and removing some of the bread inside to create a hollow for the filling. Spread one side with mayonnaise, and dot with some slices of fresh chilli. Add a serving or caramelized pork belly chunks into the cavity, and top with a tablespoon of mooli and carrot pickle, coriander leaves and cucumber sticks. Serve immediately. Keep the pork warm while assembly the remainder of the baguettes.
© 2013 Dr. John Anderson