We’ve brought you a post featuring the Banh Mi, the signature sandwich of Vietnam, once before. We’ve shown you how to make one with ground pork http://chewingthefat.us.com/2012/09/our-325th-post-melissa-clarks-quick.html. But just before we left New York for our annual stay in St.
|Epicerie Boulud’s Banh Mi|
Barthelemy in the French West Indies, we tucked into one at our favorite neighborhood Banh Mi provider, Epicerie Boulud on Broadway and 64th Street. I realized this particular version would be a snap to put together in St. Barth, land of pate, smoked ham and Merquez sausages. All I had to do was to pickle some carrots and shallots, load up on Dijon Mayonnaise and I’d have it made. Banh Mi is a very forgiving sandwich. This is because the actual translation from the Vietnamese for Banh Mi is ‘Bread’—all kinds of bread. More specifically, it refers to the Baguette, introduced by the French when Vietnam was a French colony, a part of Indochine. In Vietnam, the baguette is a single serve item, a far shorter loaf than we’re accustomed to in the States or even in St. Barths. But the character of the baguette here closely mimics the Vietnamese ideal—a thinner crust and an airier crumb. So we had the perfect ingredients for the perfect Banh Mi.
Pickling, as a I pointed out in the first post on the Banh Mi, is a whole lot faster and easier than it sounds. All I did was to try (and fail) to julienne a nice big fat carrot from the market. Without a mandolin, these were hardly perfect. But once I’d gotten Vinegar and sugar boiling and pulled off the stove and submerged my carrots into it, they were just fine. I removed the carrots after a few minutes and kept the vinegar sugar mixture. Into this I put a half cup of Crème de Cassis and brought it to a boil again adding the shallots when I’d pull the, hot liquid off the stove. The only thing missing was, believe it or not, the jalapeno pepper that give Epicerie Boulud’s version its
kick. I substituted and red pepper but it lacked the spice power of the Jalapeno. The French are not mad for spicy food, a discovery reinforced by a friend here who complained mightily about ‘over-spiced’ local Thai food. At the same restaurant, Andrew and I couldn’t believe how tame it was: We missed our spice. But despite the lack of real heat, the Banh Mi was a hit and here is the recipe, which you can undoubtedly put together almost anywhere. However, it will taste better on St. Barth. Almost everything does.