Banh mi shops cluster together in Vietnamese neighborhoods, from small, funky specialty shops that offer affordable variations and speedy delivery to fast-food franchises, which in the vietnamese communities of Orange County, California, are as common and commercial as burger joints. The banh mi sandwich is a quintessential representation of the French colonial presence in Indochina (Vietnam), where the French left their taste for baguettes and pâté and the Vietnamese added fresh vegetables, herbs, and lightly pickled veggies to take it into the stratosphere. This homemade version is just killer.
For the Marinade:
- 3/4 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped palm sugar (or brown sugar)
- 1 large shallot, minced (3 tablespoons)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, minced (2 tablespoons)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons safflower oil
For the Pickled Vegetables:
- 3/4 cup white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 cup julienned carrot
- 1 cup julienned daikon radish
For the Sandwich:
- 1 long baguette
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek chili paste
- 6 ounces pork pate, sliced
- 4 ounces black forest ham, thinly sliced
- 1/3 English cucumber, cut into 8 spears
- 8 cilantro sprigs
- 1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
- In a medium bowl, combine safflower oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, ginger, garlic, shallot, palm sugar, and black pepper. Add pork tenderloin to marinade, stir to evenly coat, and let stand 30 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, bring vinegar, granulated sugar, and salt to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add carrots and daikon to saucepan, remove from heat, and cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes. (NOTE: To cut the vegetables into julienne [thin matchstick-shaped pieces], first cut into 1/8-inch slices, then stack the slices, and cut into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Trim pieces to desired length, usually about 1/2 inch.)
- Preheat grill pan over high heat. Grill pork, turning once, until a meat thermometerinserted into the center of the pork registers 145 degrees, about 4 minutes total. Remove pork from grill and thinly slice.
- Preheat broiler with rack in upper third ofoven. Halve baguette lengthwise and place inoven cut side up. Broil until toasted and brown around edges, 2 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise and sambal oelek and spread evenly across bottom of baguette. Top with pate, ham, and grilled pork. Distribute cucumber spears, carrot and daikon pickle, cilantro sprigs, and jalapenos evenly over meats.
- Close baguette, cut into 4 to 6 portions, and serve.
Production Line Sandwich Making: When I make banh mi, Cuban sandwiches, Italian pressed sandwiches, or breakfast sandwiches for a group, I start with one large loaf, split it horizontally, layer in the filling, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate. It's a clever do-in-advance technique. Leaving it whole means it stays fresher longer and allows the flavors to meld—the slice into single portions when ready.
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