Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pork bánh mì

Your probably looking a this and thinking, what a sandwich in Vietnam? This is a product of French colonialism in Vietnam, though a Vietnamese baguette really does put a french baguette to shame, it's lighter than a cloud. Bánh mì not just a sandwich, is the ultimate sandwich. If you have ever been to Vietnam it is almost impossible to walk throughout the streets without passing a bánh mì stall. I first had this in Hoi an, a street vendor was selling these in abundance from the smallest stall, I bought one for my train journey and as soon as I tried it, I immediately knew I should have had two.
 I'm not sure what I expected, but it far exceeded my expectations. A  bánh mì consists of a french baguette stuffed with pork pate, lemon grass flavoured pork, pickled daikon and carrot, stalks of coriander, chillies, cucumber and chilli oil. It may sound like a mixed bag of ingredients but it is by far the most unbelievable sandwich I have ever had. You would think that the pork would be the main component of the dish, but I feel that it is merely a vehicle for the fragrant flavour of the lemon grass. You know something is sheer brilliance when you think about it from time to time, this is one of those dishes. This is one of my stand out dishes of my backpacking days, so grab some cold beers and a few bánh mì and you will be Happy!

This makes very large bánh mì
You will need:
For the Daikon and Carrot pickle
75g of grated carrot
75g of grated Daikon (known sometimes as mouli)
1/2 tsp of maldon salt
2 tbsp of boiling water
2 tbsp of white sugar
1 1/2 tbsp of rice vinegar

Add of the above ingredients into a bowl and allow to pickle for at least an hour.

For the lemon grass caramel pork
2 large pork shoulder steaks
3 lemon grass stalks pounded in a pestle and mortar
1 solo garlic clove or four normal cloves
50g  of fresh ginger
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp of maldon sea salt
2 tbsp of oil
the juice of a lime
500ml water
6 tbsp of white sugar
5 tbsp of water

In a pestle and mortar crush the garlic, lemon grass and ginger using the teaspoon of salt as an abrasive. Empty the contents of the pestle and mortar into a bowl and add one tablespoon of oil and the fish sauce. Place the pork steaks into the bowl to marinade for at least a couple of hours. In a sauce pan add the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the meat to allow to marinate. When the meat has a little colour to it add the 500ml water and allow to cook on a medium heat for 45 minutes with the lid on. In a frying pan heat the white sugar and 5 tbsp of water until it is a caramel brown colour. Add this to the  meat and allow to cook for a further five minutes along with the lime juice. Remove from the pan and allow to rest.

I get my baguettes from sainsburys because they are the closest that I have come to the light vietnamese baguette, but if you can get them from an asian bakery that is even better.
Cut the small baguette into two and cut open each half, smear pork pate on one side, top this with the lemon grass pork and a couple of tablespoons of the pickled carrot and daikon. This is topped with sliced red chillies, a few sprigs of corriander, sliced cucumber and a few splashes of chilli oil. Finish each baguette with a smear of mayonnaise on the other side of the bread and a few splashes of fish sauce.

The above quantities will depend on your own taste.

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