Sandwiches are like kryptonite to me. The fact that two pieces of bread can house the most complex of ingredients and create a medley of sensational flavors in one bite is one of the reasons I became a chef.
I’ve practiced making my share of good and bad sandwiches over the years and yet I always come back to one of my favorite creations. This sandwich was inspired by the famously delicious Vietnamese Town in Chicago. A bahn mi is a traditional sandwich in Vietnam that is served on a fresh baked French baguette, slathered in mayo, topped with pate and pickled veggies, then sprinkled with fresh cilantro.
Here is my spin on a classic that I’m sure you are going to make time and time again. And don’t let the long list of ingredients turn you away. I make the pickled veggies and roasted mayo in advance and use them throughout the week for a plethora of different recipes. Happy Eating!
Vietnamese Hot and Sweet Pork Anise Bahn Mi
1 pound ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 Tsp. ground anise
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
For the sandwich: cucumber slices and fresh cilantro
- Line rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap. Gently mix all ingredients in large bowl. Using moistened hands and scant tablespoonful for each, roll meat mixture into 1-inch meatballs. Arrange on baking sheet. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of meatballs.
- Sauté until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer meatballs to another rimmed baking sheet. Place in oven. Repeat with remaining meatballs.
- Remove and keep warm. Serve in sandwich with remaining garnishes (recipes below).
*Pickled Daikon and Radish Garnish
Makes 5 pints
2 pounds carrots (about 5 medium sized carrots), peeled
2 pounds of daikon radishes (about 2 large daikon), peeled
1 cup plus 4 teaspoons of sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 cups warm water (warm enough to easily dissolve sugar)
About 5 pint jars
- Julienne the carrots and the daikon radishes. Cut them first crosswise into 2 1/2 inch long segments. Then cut 1/4-inch thick slices lengthwise. Stack the slices and cut them again into 1/4-inch thick batons.
- Place the carrots and daikon radishes in a large bowl. Sprinkle with 4 teaspoons of sugar and 2 teaspoons of salt. Use your clean hands to toss the carrots and daikon with the salt and sugar until well coated. Continue to mix the carrots and daikon with your hands until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. They are ready once you can bend a piece of daikon all the way over without it breaking.
- Transfer the carrots and daikon to a colander, rinse with cool water and drain well.
- In a bowl, mix together one cup of sugar, the white vinegar and the warm water, until the sugar dissolves.
- Prepare clean jars. Pack the daikon and carrots tightly into the jars. Pour over the pickling liquid to cover. Seal. Refrigerate.
*The pickles should sit at least overnight before eating; their flavor will improve with time. They should last 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.
Roasted Jalapeno Mayo
4 jalapeno peppers
1 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves
1 green onion
1 handful cilantro
1 lime, juice and zest
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
- Place the peppers on a baking sheet.
- Place the baking sheet on the top shelf in the oven and broil until the outer layer of the skin has blackened, about 8-14 minutes.
- Place the peppers in a zip-lock bag or other sealable container, seal and let them cool until you can handle them, about 20 minutes.
- Remove the skins from the peppers. The skins should easily “pinch” off.
- Puree everything.
- Season with salt and pepper. Stir. Chill. Serve.
To assemble smear the roasted jalapeno mayo on the French baguette and top with cucumber slices, 2 meatballs, 2 Tbsp. of the carrots and daikon, and fresh cilantro sprigs. Serve.