Bahn Mi - A Delicious Vietnamese Sandwich
The story of how I discovered the most delicious vietnamese sandwich ever, the Bahn Mi. Using my simple to follow directions, you can create this simple recipe in your own kitchen.
Several days ago I went on a particular mission which took me to a particular shopping mall in the Portland Metropolitan area. For the most part I do not care for malls. In fact, in general, I do not care to be around large crowds of people unless I am at a very good rock concert in the front row and the seething masses are behind me where they can be heard but not seen. I am of the opinion that malls tend to bring out the worst in all of us. There is simply no other explanation for the hordes of unkempt shoppers, crying babies, sulking males, teens pierced in places they will certainly regret later, and middle age women trying to look like their daughters. However, my optometrist has an office in the mall and since my insurance benefit for 2012 has kicked in I felt it was time to order some new contacts. I will also confess to an extreme fondness for those great little samples they give out at nicer cosmetic counters. This fondness has lead to an embarrassing number of free 'makeovers' which leave me looking a bit more like a middle age mother trying to look like her daughter than I care to, but I really do like these little samples. If you have ever seen Jennifer Aniston in "Friends With Money" you will know exactly what I am talking about.
Which leads quite naturally to food. The effort expended in all of these 'mall' activities makes one ravenous. There really are no restaurants in malls unless you consider "Cinnabon" to be a restaurant. What they do have are 'food courts'. Food courts corral all of the unhealthiest food in one convenient area so that you can satisfy one family member's desire for chili cheese fries while you satisfy another member's desire for hot dog on a stick. They also offer fresh and compelling evidence to support the assertion that half of American adults will have diabetes by 2020. A bright note in all of this is the fact that Portlanders love food, love healthy food, and love ethnic food. Even in their food courts. As luck might have it, I migrated towards a concession, 'Steamers Asian Street Bistro", where I had previously purchased several fairly tasty salad rolls. I was looking forward to a quick munch when I espied a banner advertising "Bahn Mi", a new addition to their menu. The photograph displayed a tasty looking vietnamese sandwich replete with pork, pickled veggies, jalapenos and cilantro, all served with a spicy mayo on a toasted french roll. Despite the fact that the young gentleman behind the counter informed me that their toaster oven was broken, I decided to order my very first Bahn mi. Despite the fact that the bun was not toasted, it was delicious.
Like many cooks, if I am served a dish in a restaurant that I find to be fabulous, I want to recreate it in my own kitchen. That evening I was making an unrelated foray into one of my 'Clean Eating' magazines looking for some recipe ideas for the week to come, when it fell open to a page with a recipe for a vegetarian 'Bahn Mi'. The recipe substituted avocado for pork, but was essentially the same sandwich that I had eaten earlier in the day. What was truly helpful was the solution to how to pickle the vegetables. I made this vietnamese sandwich for dinner the very next night and it was even more delectable than the one I had purchased in the mall. I think it was a better cut of pork and the toasted french roll that made all of the difference. Thanks to the mall, and the food court for this great new addition to my diet!
Bahn Mi (for two)
1 Cup Rice Vinegar
½ c. white sugar
¾ tsp. salt
2 lean pieces of pork loin (2-4 ounces apiece0
Combine the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan and bring to boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Peel both the daikon radish and the carrot and either slice into matchsticks or use your peeler to peel off thin strips. When the vinegar mixture has cooled, combine the veggies w/it and allow to sit for 15-20 minutes. When the veggies have finished pickling, drain and set aside.
Using a nonstick pan and a small amount of oil, cook pork on each side (using salt and pepper to season) for about 2-3 minutes. Toast buns. Combine Sriracha and mayo until you have a light coral mixture. This will be spread on all buns. More mayo will create less heat, and vice versa. Build your sandwich with pork, pickled veggies, thinly sliced jalapeno and cilantro to taste.
There are a lot of different variations on this sandwich. It can be made with grilled chicken, liver pate, egg (for a breakfast Bahn Mi) or ground meat. A vegetarian version can be made with tofu or avocado, and seasonal veggies, like cucumbers, can also be pickled and added to the sandwich. Watch the following video with Anthony Bourdain and you will see him eat a loaded Bahn Mi in Vietnam.