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Bahn Mi

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First we must thank John Montagu (1718-1792), the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who had the genius idea of encasing cold meats in between two slices of bread so that he didn’t break from the gambling tables for a snack.

Of all the inventive meat-and-bread creations since this historical milestone, the Vietnamese Banh Mi is one of my favorites. Fresh and crusty bread, and the sweet pickled carrots and cucumber (daikon too if available) and cilantro are key, the rest can vary according to taste.

This recipe is the authentic street vendor version.

For the bread

About 9 inches of fresh French baguette cut lengthwise leaving both halves still attached. 

For the pickle

  • ¾ cup of shredded carrots
  • ¾ cup of thinly sliced, peeled and seeded cucumber
  • ½ cup shredded daikon, if available
  • 2 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt

Mix all of the above and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes, drain before using.

Bahn Mi
For the filling

  • 3 tablespoons of chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 lb of pork (tenderloin is recommended), chicken, or tofu
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise ( can be substituted with butter)
  • 1 tablespoon of liver pate (this is very authentic, can be omitted but can really elevate the experience)
  • 15 thin and peeled cucumber slices
  • 15 sprigs of fresh cilantro
  • A few thin slices of jalapeno
  • A few drops of soy sauce
  • A few drops of sriracha

Rub the protein with a mix of chili sauce and sugar. If using tofu, bake ½ inch slices.

If using pork or chicken, sear the entire slab and then bake in oven until cooked through. Let cool before thinly slicing.
Smear the pate and mayo on the lower half, then place the meat slices, a single layer of pickles, the fresh cucumbers and jalapenos, the cilantro leaves, and finally a few drops of soy sauce, and maybe a few drops of sriracha for some kick.

Enjoy right away so that bread remains crisp.

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