Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Banh Mi

I love bahn mi -- the Vietnamese "salad sandwich". There's so much good stuff going on in there: pickled carrots and daikon, cucumbers, pork (or chicken or tofu or pate or whatever), basil, cilantro... But my kids are not quite up for the whole she-bang in one bite. So, on the advice of my friend Jamie, I turned it into a mothership meal. (Thanks, Jamie!)

It's a great summery dinner, and a twist on those cold cut spreads, where you get to make your own sandwich. (which I LOVED as a kid, despite the fact that I associate them for some reason with both church and funerals. )

If you pickle the vegetables and marinate the pork early in the day, then the actual dinner set up is easy: Roast or grill the meat, slice it thin, and lay out all the fixings. My son loves the the sweet and salty pickled carrots, and the last time I made this, they both tried cucumbers (a new one, even though they love dill pickles. KIDS!)

P1ckled Vegetables:
1 daikon radish, grated
3 carrots, grated or finely julienned
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar or sucanat
1 tablespoon salt
Water to cover

2 fresh jalapeƱos, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion, sliced thinly
Handful each of fresh cilantro and basil
1 long cucumber
Watercress or other salad green
1 tablespoon fish sauce
4 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 French baguette, multi-grain if possible (much preferable in our tests to the doughy ciabatta that's pictured above)

1 lb pork tenderloin
1/4 cup brown sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 cloves minced garlic

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (or heat grill, if using). Heat a skillet with a tablespoon of oil, and brown tenderloin. Place in oven and roast for 10-15 minutes on each side, depending on its size (check often).

2. To pickle vegetables: Stir together vinegar, sugar, and salt, and heat. Let it cool, then toss with shredded vegetables (each in a separate bowl). Taste and add salt if necessary. Set aside for at least 15 minutes and up to 12 or so hours.

3. Meanwhile, heat baguette on rack in oven until crusty, about 5 minutes. Cut off and discard round ends, then split baguette.

4. Drain pickled vegetables.

5. Mix together mayonnaise and fish sauce, and spread on cut sides of bread. Arrange pork, pickled veggies, watercress and herbs on table. Offer each diner some bread, and help yourselves to the sandwich you want!

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