Today marks another milestone on Chewing the Fat. It’s our 325th post and sometime in the very near future we will achieve our 300,000th page view. Not bad for a couple of self-taught cooks who just love to bake and cook and have never had a lesson in our lives. But that was the whole idea when we started: If we can cook it or bake it, you can cook it or bake it. And although it may appear that we are whizzes in the kitchen, I can quite promise you that Andrew and I do not share our bombs—our soufflés that flop, our spice mixtures gone haywire, our cakes that didn’t rise. We never publish anything that didn’t turn out right until it does turn out right. I think this is why when we get comments from Mary in Oyster Bay, Kate in Alberta, Lauren in Dallas or Bubbles in Montreal, I am always so pleased that they really use the recipes we post, that their guests and/or husbands love their cooking. So here’s to all of us who get our kicks in the kitchen, who love discovering new tastes, new adventures in cooking old favorites and new ways to please everyone who comes to our table. And one more thing: Just when I think what can I possibly cook today? How can I find something new to share with our readers? Along comes a recipe like today’s Banh Mi sandwich with its Pickled Carrots and Daikon. And for the first time, I made my own pickles in all of 30 minutes flat. And guess what? If I can make my own pickles, you can too.
It’s wildly fitting that today’s recipe is from Melissa Clark. The New York Times columnist and author of “A Good Appetite” is practically required reading in every Wednesday’s “Dining” Pages. Melissa has appeared here on 7 previous occasions. And one of Melissa’s recipes is one of the most popular ever published here. Actually, the recipe is attributed to Melissa’s Mother and it comes in at number 8 in the 15 months since we posted it. Here’s the link:http://chewingthefat.us.com/search
|Worth the trip!|
Today’s recipe had me from “Hello”. The Banh Mi has taken New York by storm in the past few years. I have been known to take a subway some 60 blocks just to get my hands on the version at Baoguette, a stand-up sandwich shop at 120 Christopher St. (between Bleecker St and Bedford St. Tel: (212) 929-0877) in Greenwich Village. The trek is truly worth it.
|Epicerie Boulud’s Version is closer to home|
Then, thankfully, Daniel Boulud brought a terrific version of the Vietnamese Classic to Epicerie Boulud at 1900 Broadway, four blocks south of our apartment. Boulud’s combination of pate, ham, and sausage topped with crunchy pickles and spicy mayo is the best thing to happen to a bun since the hot dog. So you can imagine my excitement when, last winter, Melissa invented a home version of the sandwich. In Melissa’s version, she concentrated on a single meat, a pork purist’s version based on a Vietnamese Banh Mi that’s usually made with grilled pork. And true to Melissa’s style of cooking, she made it so easy to produce the flavors of a true Banh Mi without all the marinating necessary to flavor grilled pork. She turned instead to ground pork which she knew would absorb the flavors of the hot and fish sauces essential to the flavor of the sandwich. Instead of topping her Banh Mi with mayo and hot sauce, she incorporated them into the ground pork mixture. But a Banh Mi without pickles for crunch isn’t a Banh Mi at all. And who knew how incredibly easy it is to make the pickles that make an authentic version of the dish? One half hour and three ingredients later you have your pickles! A few sprigs of cilantro, a sliver or two of jalapeno, and some fresh mint leaves and Voila! You take a baguette, slice it open and stuff it with the pork mixture, top it off and your Banh Mi is ready for it’s closeup. One other note: Melissa writes that this recipe serves 6. I don’t consider Andrew and me to be big eaters. He and I shared the entire recipe and made two overstuffed Banh Mi. I really would not ask 4 friends over to share this quantity– maybe two, but never four. Here’s the recipe:
Recipe for Melissa Clark’s Quick Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Daikon:
For the Pickled Vegetables:
3/4 cup shredded carrots
3/4 cup thinly sliced Persian, Kirby or European cucumbers
1/2 cup shredded daikon radish
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the Pork Filling :
1/2 cup mayonnaise
4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 to 3 tablespoons sriracha or other chili sauce, to taste
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound ground pork
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Finely grated zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 baguette cut into 8 inch pieces, split Fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced and seeded, for serving, Mint sprigs, for serving
Cilantro sprigs, for serving.
1. To make the pickled vegetables: In a bowl, toss together the carrots, cucumbers, daikon, vinegar, sugar and salt and let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the pork. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon scallions and 1 to 2 tablespoons chili sauce, to taste. Cover tightly and set aside.
3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons scallions and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add pork and cook, breaking up with a fork, until no longer pink, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in 1 tablespoon chili sauce and the fish sauce, pepper, salt and sugar. Remove from heat and stir in the basil, lime zest and lime juice. Let cool 5 minutes, then add mayonnaise mixture.
4. Fill bread with pork mixture. Press the jalapeño, mint and cilantro sprigs into the pork. Spoon some pickled vegetables onto the sandwiches and serve any extra alongside.