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The boyfriend and I love banh mi. I’m sure the rest of you do, too, which is why you’re here! We live in Houston, where the Vietnamese community is huge and there is no shortage of banh mi shops, so I could just drive 10 minutes and pick up some. But so why make it if it’s easily available? Honestly, it’s because I love food and I love to cook. I love learning and recreating my favorite dishes, making it more my own. Also, what else is a sick girl supposed to do all day? Resting sucks. Cooking rocks.
I can always count on The Ravenous Couple’s recipes as a starting point for Vietnamese food. Their bo luc lac is spot on and it seems to be the go to recipe for all my Vietnamese friends, too. So, that’s where I turned to for this banh mi thit nuong (grilled bbq sandwich) recipe.
There are many components to a banh mi. You’ve typically got your bread, meat, mayo, pickled carrots/daikon, cucumber, cilantro, sliced jalapenos, black pepper, and Maagi seasoning. And, if you’re really ambitious, a fried egg (omg so yum maybe next time) Personally, the only veggies I like on my sandwich are the carrots/daikon, which is what you see above. Banh mi bread is not your typical french bread roll. The banh mi rolls, in my opinion, are fluffier and the crust isn’t as tough. I went to the local Vietnamese grocery store when they first opened and got first dibs on the freshly baked bread. It smelled heavenly. It was so warm and soft, with that little bit of crunch. I literally wanted to stop right there and eat a roll. For obvious reasons, I did not. I decided to also pickle my own carrots and daikon radish. That, too, was there for me to just buy, but where’s the fun in that? The boyfriend’s mom gave me this awesome julienne slicer for Christmas and what better way to use it than for the carrots and daikon? Now, I was completely motivated to make my own mayo spread, but the one they had at the grocery was freshly made and looked so good, so I caved and bought it. Next time, I’ll make my own because I felt this one was missing something.
On to the recipes….and pictures 🙂 I’m starting with the pickled carrots and daikon radish as you can get that done and out of the way.
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (adapted from The Ravenous Couple):
Ingredients are simple: thinly sliced carrots, thinly sliced daikon radish, white distilled vinegar, salt, and sugar.
(Note: I didn’t have white distilled vinegar so I just used what I had on hand which was definitely not distilled)
I took my carrot and daikon and peeled them. Using the julienne slicer, I was able to get them sliced thinly. If you don’t have that tool, cutting with a knife or using a fancy food processor will provide the same results. I placed all the sliced carrots/daikon in a 17 oz jar that I had bought from the store. Then, I filled the jar with just enough vinegar to cover the veggies. Next, season with almost equal parts sugar and salt. I used 3 tsp. of sugar and 2 tsp. of salt and I felt it was still too tart. The pickled veggies should be a nice balance of the tart, sweet, and salty. The boyfriend LOVED what I did, but I felt it was too tart for my tastes. Pickle your veggies for at least an hour before use. You’ll be happy to know that the pickled veggies will last months in the fridge so make larger batches if you feel you’ll use them on anything else! Ta da!
Banh Mi Thit Nuong (Grilled BBQ Vietnamese Sandwich) – Also adapted from The Ravenous Couple
- 1.5 lb pork butt or shoulder, thinly sliced just under 1/4 inch or so (not too thin as you do not want it to dry out when grilled. Ask your butcher to do this for you. Also, do not use lean pork as it will become dry.)
- 1 tbsp. minced Lemongrass (xa bam). Many Asian markets will sell minced lemongrass in the freezer section.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs ground pepper
- 1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
- 2-3 shallots, minced.
- 3 tbs sesame oil
- 1 tbs thick soy sauce (not regular soy sauce–has molasses, making it thicker and adding great color. If not available, can use caramel sauce. Both can be found at Asian groceries)
- 4-6 banh mi rolls (French bread rolls) or if that’s not available, 2 loaves of French bread or 4-6 demi baguettes
- optional 1 cucumber, sliced thin
- optional 1/2 bunch cilantro
- optional jalapeno, thinly sliced
- pickled carrots/daikon
- Vietnamese mayo – I call it that because it’s not butter and it’s not your typical Kraft mayonnaise, so that’s what i’m sticking with.
In a large bowl, add your lemongrass, sugar, fish sauce, pepper, garlic, shallots, sesame oil, and thick soy sauce. Add the meat and make sure to mix well and incorporate all the ingredients with the meat. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or two.
There are a few ways to cook this. You can use a grill with a grill basket, on a grill with skewers, or in a pan on a stove top. I, personally, don’t have the option of grilling so I used my grill type pan on my stove top. It left really pretty grill marks and still gave it that same char. Grill the meat til it’s nice and brown, with a bit of char.
Once the meat is cooked, you can put your sandwich together with all the condiments. I prefer my bread warm, so I’d preheat the oven to 265 degrees and warm the bread for about 5-10 minutes. Cut it in half, spread the mayo, add the meat, add the veggies, and whatever optional items you want on there and voila. Your sandwich awaits you!
The meat cooked really well and the sandwich itself was a hit. We were able to make 5 sandwiches with this batch. The boyfriend approves, so I’m sure I’ll be making this more often. I love the bread and I’m going to make my own mayo the next round. Til then!
Happy Eating – Chelle ^_^
This year I started my garden on time, instead of just planting now. So everything is in bloom. I have bell peppers of various colors (they are call ‘color bells’) but so far I only see green and this dark purple looking one (I know they will change when they start to ripen). I’m growing cherry tomatoes again, but this time instead of ‘sweet hundred’ it’s ‘sweet million’. There is a noticeable increase in the number of flowers and I expect a whole lot of tomatoes.
I went to Austin this past weekend just to get away. It was relaxing and I had a great time. I’ll have to post about it next time, but I’ve taken part of a wellness/health program at my Drs. office and for the first two weeks, I can only eat fruits and veggies. For a girl that loves meat and rice and chocolate, it’s been tough. Luckily, Austin is quite health conscious and I found great food while there.
First stop on Saturday was brunch at Eastside Cafe with my cousin and her husband. I hadn’t seen them in years and they said this place had yummy food and the freshest veggies. The restaurant is cozy, dainty, and the service was excellent. They grow their own veggies in the garden out back, which you can stroll around in while you wait for your table, and they raise their own chickens. I believe all their veggies served come straight from the garden. As you sit down, they bring out these mini cornbread muffins and oh how delicious they smelled.
I had a mixed greens salad with goat cheese and tossed in a rice wine vinaigrette. It tasted so different from what I’ve had before. It tasted so fresh. No photo, but everyone’s seen a salad before. But, what I loved most was their roasted acorn squash with a soy ginger sauce.
Doesn’t that look awesome? I just took a fork, scraped the side, dipped a bit and took a bite. It was so tasty and I was in love. My cousin’s husband ordered a veggie burger, but my cousin ordered this artichoke manicotti, which is “Carrot pasta filled with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, pistachios, ricotta, and mozzarella cheese. Topped with sun-dried tomato cream sauce and parmesan cheese.” I was jealous she got to eat that.
For the sake of a photo op, and because what kind of review is this without dessert? They were kind enough to eat this delicious cherry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream. Aren’t they the sweetest? By the way, cherry cobblers and cherry pies are in my top 5 favorite desserts. I was brave and strong willed and did not falter. Behold.
As much as I wanted to take a bite of that, I couldn’t. Instead, I watched my cousin and her husband devour it. =( When I’m untubby and can eat that again, I’m coming back for sure. Haha! This is definitely a place to return to and Austinites, if you haven’t made it out to this place…GO!! They take reservations, prices are decent, and food is delicious.
From the left: coconut macaroons, pecan blondies (you can see some on the edge, also there’s a peak of rainbow cookies next to the papaya), balsamic portabello mushroom and onion sandwiches, tomato basil mozzarella sandwiches with a little caramelized onion, and papaya dressed with honey and lemon.
Cupcakes from http://www.dessertclubchikalicious.com/ , black and white (taste like a really upscale devil dog or ho-ho), caramel with caramel frosting and filling, and s’mores with the browned marshmallow top and chocolate filling.
Seafood salad, and pita chips. The hummus, carrots, and olives were out of frame.
- 1 lb squid bodies/rings (or scallops)
- 1 lb shrimp (the smaller kind)
- 1 large english cucumber
- 2 lbs tomatoes
- 1 small onion
- 1 jalapeño pepper
- 1 bunch of basil
- 4 or 5 lemons juiced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 5 cloves of garlic
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Cut up shrimp and squid to bite size. Remove the seeds of the cucumber and cut into a large dice, roughly the same size as the seafood. Dice the tomatoes and slice the onion thinly. Half then seed the jalapeño, thinly slice or dice finely. Tear up the basil and put everything in a large bowl (except the seafood). Peel and mince the garlic. Heat a large pan/pot with enough olive oil to coat pan, add half the garlic in then all the seafood (throw in a dash of salt). Cook till shrimp changes color and the squid is just done (there will probably be a lot liquid left in the pan which I keep). Pour the seafood (and liquid) into the bowl with everything else. Add in the rest of the garlic, the lemon zest and juice, toss together, then salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (I made it the night before). Mix it a bit before serving.
Thanks to everyone for coming and making it really fun.
Not quite instant ramen, but the best ramen I’ve ever made at home. The noodles are fresh not freeze dried, and the soup packet is liquid. The noodles are colored with vitamin B so the cooking liquid turns very bright yellow, but I prefer that to traditional food coloring. It also comes in pork and miso flavors, none of the soup packets are vegetarian.
The noodles cook in 2 1/2 mins (then drain, the soup cooks separately). It has that nice chewiness that you can’t get from instant and the soup is not overly salty while still very flavorful. I added scallions, egg, and nori (you can also throw in some leftovers). I hope the store will keep stocking these, I’m going to be hoarding them.
Japanese Kit Kats come in a number of flavors and change seasonally. All I manage to find at my local Japanese market were Royal Milk Tea and Milk Coffee. I don’t usually like coffee flavored things but this was still pleasant enough. Far as I can tell they are both coated with the same white chocolate and the filling in the wafers are different (but from photos I’ve seen online, the chocolate coating varies from flavor to flavor). I really liked the milk tea, it’s not a common flavor in American candies.
http://www.jbox.com/SEARCHES/japan_kit_kat/ carries some different flavors.
The servings are small, the packaging, and price are a bit much for so little, but it is tasty and nicely designed.
There are two bags in each box.
I got a new Cannon DSLR camera and a giant lens for closeups. Before I was shooting everything my Sony Cybershot. So look forward to all new food photography from me.