Sunday, August 2, 2009

Banh mi mania.

Once you have terrine and chicken liver pate on your hands, the next logical step is, obviously, to make some banh mi.

If you're one of the unlucky few who has yet to encounter banh mi, let me introduce you to this most delicious of sandwiches. Inspired by the various street sandwiches available in Vietnamese cities, banh mi are a perfect example of the country's fusion of Asian and French flavors. There's no standard, but most banh mi include at least one kind of charcuterie (usually either a rustic pâté or a more spreadable one), some kind of porky filling, fresh herbs, mayonnaise and pickled vegetables - all on a crusty baguette.

We based our homemade version on the recipe from Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, and tried to be enterprising with what we already had on hand.

We took our last crock of chicken liver pâté, let it come to room temperature, and mixed in a healthy dose of cinnamon. Next, we sliced some gorgeous Kirby cucumbers, made a quick pickle with daikon and carrot, and followed the cookbook's instructions for a ground pork stir fry for the filling. Finally, we sliced the terrine (one slice each was plenty).

We laid out fresh herbs (mint and cilantro - basil would have been nice, too), dished up some cornichons, and got down to the business of assembling our sandwiches.

Banh mi should be so messy that eating them in front of strangers is a bit embarrassing - and these delivered. Fatty, fragrant, fresh, crunchy, salty, sweet and meaty, they were pretty much the best sandwiches any of the three of us had ever tasted. The sheer act of eating them felt somehow debauched, given all the pork and offal on hand - not to mention the pickles, mayonnaise, and white bread.

And, frankly - we were pretty proud of ourselves for undertaking the effort at all. Banh mi is one of those recipes that require you to make at least three or four other recipes to make the whole thing happen. As Nick pointed out, it was a pretty badass attempt, and a successful one at that.

To drink alongside, we heartily recommend mint juleps - hell, you already have the mint on hand, you know?

The only change I would make next time? The addition of pickled jalapenos. I cannot believe we didn't think of it on the spot. Ah, well - an excuse to do it all over again.


Louisa Edwards said...

Yes, next time pickled jalapenos and possibly foie gras. I can't wait!

Meg Blocker said...

Mmmmm...foie gras!

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