Sunday, April 24, 2011
Banh Mi, Banh You
My grapefruit jam adventure left me with 8 empty canning jars and the options for filling them in late March were limited. However, the farmer's market had plenty of carrots and daikon radishes so I opted for some Vietnamese Pickled Carrots and Radishes (called do chua) to make banh mi.
Making the pickle was a lot easier and quicker than the jam without the slow process of cooking down the juice and making sure it gels. With my pickle knowhow, I'm looking forward to some triple dill, extra garlic pickles in the summer. For now, however, we have these crunchy, sweet-tart matchsticks just begging to be made into banh mi. There are myriad toppings for banh mi, but I knew I wanted to go with pork. Failing to find any at the farmers market, I picked up a lean pork loin, sliced it ever to thinly, and cooked it up in a black pepper marinade. I cannot recommend this marinade enough. The fish sauce gives a complexity to the pork that had us picking at the leftovers all night.
I layered the pork on baguettes with sriracha mayo, cilantro, onions, cucumber, a splash of soy sauce and - of course - the pickled veggies! This combination highlights the perfectly balanced flavors I think of when I think of great southeast Asian cooking -crunchy cucumber, rich salty pork, sweet carrots, pungent daikon and onion, spicy sriracha, and creamy mayo. Overall, I was really happy with the resulting sandwich. There are few things I will remember for next time. The baguette I picked up at the farmer's market was really chewy, which is usually wonderful, but in this case let to occasional structural failures as the sandwich fillings slipped out the back.
With three jars of pickled veggies left, we needed to be eating them on something other than banh mi. So they also topped tacos made with leftover sweet and spicy pork shoulder and avocado. An unusual, but quite tasty, combo.