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Cook-Off 60: Banh Mi

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#31 David Ross

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Posted 02 July 2012 - 12:29 PM

I'm forming my plans for two different Banh Mi. I'll be doing a roast pork belly version with chicken liver pate and the requisite pickled daikon and carrot, but I'll probably change the pickling liquid a bit. Then I plan on a red-cooked pork belly for Banh Mi #2, but no pate and maybe some mayo on that one. I'm thinking of some French influence in the red-cooked pork version.

#32 David Ross

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 04:08 AM

Anyone out there have good techniques for crisping the skin on pork belly? One time I roasted a pork belly with skin/rind on and it came out as tough as plywood. The next time, I cut off the outer layer of skin/rind and left the fat layer. The fat layer of skin got sort of crispy, but not like what I've had from roast pork belly out of a Chinese deli.

I found a Banh Mi recipe using roast pork belly that calls for pricking the rind/skin with a skewer before roasting, then at the last stages of roasting you turn up the broiler to puff and crisp the skin. The photo of the finished roast pork belly showed a lot of little crispy bubbles on the skin, just like from the deli. Any thoughts? I want the pork in my "Banh Mi" nuber one to have crispy skin.

#33 Kerry Beal

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 04:32 AM

Anyone out there have good techniques for crisping the skin on pork belly? One time I roasted a pork belly with skin/rind on and it came out as tough as plywood. The next time, I cut off the outer layer of skin/rind and left the fat layer. The fat layer of skin got sort of crispy, but not like what I've had from roast pork belly out of a Chinese deli.

I found a Banh Mi recipe using roast pork belly that calls for pricking the rind/skin with a skewer before roasting, then at the last stages of roasting you turn up the broiler to puff and crisp the skin. The photo of the finished roast pork belly showed a lot of little crispy bubbles on the skin, just like from the deli. Any thoughts? I want the pork in my "Banh Mi" nuber one to have crispy skin.


David - not sure where to start looking - but there is a whole topic on crispy pork skin somewhere in eG.

#34 LizD518

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 07:55 AM

I've made Bahn Mi at home several times recently - although it is probably more correctly considered as Bahn Mi inspired: Lemongrass chicken (thin-sliced chicken breast or boneless/skinless thighs, marinated in lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar & garlic, then grilled), quick-pickled veg (carrots, radish, cuke usually), sriracha mayo & cilantro. Don't know that it is all that authentic, but it is certainly yummy! There is a little Vietnamese eatery down the street from me that serves Bahn Mi in three varieties - classic, with pate & cold cuts; grilled pork or grilled beef are the other options.

#35 heidih

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 08:27 AM

David - not sure where to start looking - but there is a whole topic on crispy pork skin somewhere in eG.


There are a few topics but I think this one is the one you are thinking of. Excellent info and pictures.

#36 ambra

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 08:59 AM

I make this non-traditional version all the time. it's a really good, quick (even if it's better when the meat marinates for a while) substitute. I usually make homemade sourdough ( I know it's not traditional, but it's the bread I most often make and it's a much better choice than the saltless Tuscan bread available to me.) I never use the mayo since I don't get why it's even there but that's probably because I dislike mayo. And I rarely make pate.

#37 David Ross

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 12:28 PM

Anyone ever tried a Banh Mi with fruit substituting for the traditional pickled carrot and daikon mix?

#38 Paula E

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 01:29 PM

rotuts: Will have to check out Chinatown next time we are down. Great tip.
LindaK: something will have to be invented...a vacuum/static electricity charged crumb catcher...Fat Guy will have to get on it with his Quirky friends. Sometimes a napkin just isn't enough.

Edited by Paula E, 03 July 2012 - 01:34 PM.


#39 rotuts

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Posted 03 July 2012 - 02:04 PM

I think the Crumbs are a Badge of Honor!

there used to be a B.M. shop across from the one i now go to on Knapp St in oddly a jewelry store! There is an excellent 'chinese' grocery store right there on Knapp. A basement affair. A larger one across the 'express way' on Lincoln st is probably run by the same people

The Best roast pork buns to me and ive tried them all is on Oxford Place called of all things: Eldo Cake House or sometihng similar: on the E side of the street. take the L off beech.

http://www.yelp.com/...ke-house-boston

love to see what you think!

Edited by rotuts, 03 July 2012 - 02:05 PM.


#40 David Ross

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 03:30 AM


David - not sure where to start looking - but there is a whole topic on crispy pork skin somewhere in eG.


There are a few topics but I think this one is the one you are thinking of. Excellent info and pictures.

Thanks for the link. I'm going to use that style of roast pork in a Banh Mi with a smooth chicken liver pate. I'll be doing another one with red-cooked pork and pickled watermelon instead of vegetables. Now that's going to be a really red Banh Mi!

#41 David Ross

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 06:04 PM

OK, I think I'm set. How does this sound?

Banh Mi #1-
Bread top
Chicken Liver Mousse
Carrot/Daikon Pickle
Maggi
Roast Pork
Sliced Cucumber in Orange Vinaigrette
Bread bottom

Banh Mi #2-
Bread top
Siracha Mayonnaise
Red-Cooked Pork
Pickled Watermelon Slices
Fresh Basil
Fresh Mint
Bread bottom

#42 HowardLi

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Posted 04 July 2012 - 09:21 PM



David - not sure where to start looking - but there is a whole topic on crispy pork skin somewhere in eG.


There are a few topics but I think this one is the one you are thinking of. Excellent info and pictures.

Thanks for the link. I'm going to use that style of roast pork in a Banh Mi with a smooth chicken liver pate. I'll be doing another one with red-cooked pork and pickled watermelon instead of vegetables. Now that's going to be a really red Banh Mi!


http://www.seriousea...-porchetta.html

Kenji uses a secondary rub consisting mainly of baking powder. Apparently the effect is similar to using lye in the aforementioned thread.

#43 C. sapidus

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 07:30 PM

Younger son requested char siu banh mi for his birthday. Who am I to say no? We followed Andrea Nguyen’s recipes from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, except for charcoal-grilling the pork. We made the daikon-carrot pickle yesterday, and started marinating the pork this morning.

Pork shoulder strips on the grill:

Posted Image

Rolling the pork in the marinade every few minutes:

Posted Image

Staying hydrated is critical when working at a hot grill. Gin and tonic:

Posted Image

Glaze starting to build up:

Posted Image

Rest the pork for a few minutes before slicing against the grain:

Posted Image

Served on hollowed-out baguettes. Fixings included liver pate, daikon-carrot pickle, cucumber strips, thinly-sliced jalapenos, cilantro, Maggi, and mayonnaise.

Posted Image

#44 David Ross

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Posted 05 July 2012 - 07:43 PM

Younger son requested char siu banh mi for his birthday. Who am I to say no? We followed Andrea Nguyen’s recipes from Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, except for charcoal-grilling the pork. We made the daikon-carrot pickle yesterday, and started marinating the pork this morning.

Pork shoulder strips on the grill:

Posted Image

Rolling the pork in the marinade every few minutes:

Posted Image

Staying hydrated is critical when working at a hot grill. Gin and tonic:

Posted Image

Glaze starting to build up:

Posted Image

Rest the pork for a few minutes before slicing against the grain:

Posted Image

Served on hollowed-out baguettes. Fixings included liver pate, daikon-carrot pickle, cucumber strips, thinly-sliced jalapenos, cilantro, Maggi, and mayonnaise.

Posted Image


How amazingly delicious!

#45 David Ross

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 06:16 AM

Yesterday I went to the Asian grocery store to buy the bread, pork belly and Maggi for my Banh Mi. The clerks have come to recognize me as a regular customer and so they welcome me and are happy to give me advice. The woman who was at check-out saw what I was buying and went into a short lesson on how she prepares Banh Mi. (I actually only caught about half of what she told me, so I'll serve as the interpreter here and describe her method).She said she splits the bread nearly in half, being careful to not cut all the way through, (so it is facing up like a lobster roll). She then adds roast pork, (made from a Chinese deli in Seattle and shipped fresh to Spokane), then drizzles on a little hoisin sauce. (Hoisin makes sense, a sort of sweet and sour flavored sauce). Then some fresh herbs. She didn't say what type of herb or greens, but she pointed to the spearmint, purple Thai basil and cilantro I had in my basket.

#46 Katie Meadow

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:58 AM

C. Sap: That looks beautiful. I have made Andrea's Char Siu in the oven, but never thought to grill it. How long did you marinate it before grilling? And then you dipped or basted every ten minutes? Did you have the meat over direct heat the whole time grilling?

#47 C. sapidus

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 06:53 PM

David – thank you! I look forward to seeing your banh mi.

C. Sap: That looks beautiful. I have made Andrea's Char Siu in the oven, but never thought to grill it. How long did you marinate it before grilling? And then you dipped or basted every ten minutes? Did you have the meat over direct heat the whole time grilling?

Thanks, Katie. I marinated the meat before work, so probably about 10 hours.

I did have the meat directly over the coals. The grill was pretty hot, so I dipped the meat every 5 minutes or so. Next time I will let the coals burn down a bit further, and probably make more marinade so I can dip the meat more frequently.

I do prefer char siu over fire rather than under the broiler.

#48 David Ross

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 07:48 PM

Well, I think my first attempt at a Banh Mi sandwich was fairly admirable. A few mis-steps along the way, like buying what I thought was purple Thai basil—only to find out it was something quite different—and quite wonderful.

Here is the step-by-step photos of the making of my Banh Mi, from the top layer on down. (I don’t know if the layering of the ingredients in a specific order makes a difference, but I was intentionally layering the flavors and textures to, I hoped, create the best Banh Mi I could).

Banh Mi 006.JPG

The Bread-
I bought the bread rolls at the local Asian grocery store. The bread is delivered fresh from a Vietnamese bakery in Seattle. It felt a little soft right out of the bag, so I let the rolls sit on the counter for about 6 hours to crisp-up the crust.
Banh Mi 026.JPG

Banh Mi 007.JPG

Banh Mi 030.JPG

The Mayonnaise-
O.K., I’m a sucker for homemade mayonnaise in a sandwich. But I sort of kept it within the vast region of Southeast Asia with the addition of some sriracha. (And a few drops of Asian-style Maggi). I went too light on the sriracha so I’ll stir in a few more spoonfuls for the next Banh Mi.
Banh Mi 011.JPG

The Herbs-
The licorice, mint, spice and fragrant notes of basil, mint and cilantro seem like a natural pairing to counter some of the richer flavors in the sandwich—but I found a few surprises when I was facing the produce section of the market. There were 4 different varieties of mint, including both peppermint and spearmint. I thought peppermint might be too minty, and I was worried that spearmint might also be too strong, but casting away from tradition I took the spearmint.
Banh Mi 018.JPG

Now what I thought was a bag of fresh purple Thai basil turned out to be anything but. When I got home and opened the bag, I tore into a leaf to taste it. The leaves weren’t shiny like basil, more textured in fact. It had subtle notes of licorice like basil, but it had an exotic, floral fragrance with notes of pepper and spice. And then I found out what was in the bag, purple perilla, noted as “one of the favorite herbs in the Vietnamese culinary palette,” according to the Viet World Kitchen site. I had bought a bag of herbs that I mistook for basil, yet ended up with a Vietnamese herb, for a Vietnamese Banh Mi. One is sometimes lucky in this world of culinary discovery.
Banh Mi 019.JPG

The Pickles-
A scan of Banh Mi recipes called for a mix of shredded carrot and daikon steeped in a pickling liquid. Such things always create a bit of anxiety on my part as I’ve never been a successful pickler. I chose a recipe that called for making a hot pickling brine, then letting it cool and adding in finely shredded carrot and daikon and letting the pickling take place overnight. I followed the recipe to a “t,” but then this morning when I checked on the pickled mix, my pickling horrors were realized. The brine had basically sucked the life out of my hours of shredding efforts. The carrots and daikon were limp and sad looking.

Yet not to worry, I fell back on a staple “quick-pickling” method I’ve used for years, and I took my own path for how I was going to cut the carrot and daikon. I used my mandolin to cut the carrots and daikon into the thinnest, long ribbons I could muster. Then into a bowl with a sprinkle of salt, sugar, a few glugs of rice vinegar and a dab of water. That’s it. Raw vegetables in a cold brine. The carrot and daikon came out crisp, clean and refreshing—and not too heavy on the “pickle.”
Banh Mi 023.JPG

Banh Mi 024.JPG

The Pork-
I knew the pork belly would be the biggest challenge in crafting a Banh Mi, and trust me please, I had every intention of roasting my own pork belly. That it until I saw a beauty of a roasted Chinese-style pork belly sitting in the cold case at the market. Delivered fresh after a hop over the mountains from Seattle, this little piggy did go to the market.
Banh Mi 014.JPG

I poked the little devil through his thin layer of plastic wrap and the skin, all golden and burbly, was crisp to the touch. I just knew I had to take this pork belly home. Why make it at home when you can buy a better product crafted by chefs who have been roasting pork for years? I covered the pork belly in foil and heated it in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes, then another 2-3 minutes under the broiler to re-crisp the skin.

I stole a bite of the pork belly as I was making the Banh Mi and I was glad I bought it at the store. It reminded me of the flavors of Chinese roast duck, (another idea for a Banh Mi), with just a hint of five-spice powder.

The Pate-
All I could find in the Asian grocery store was some pork pate stuffed into a little can. I didn’t think I could trust it, and I had a new recipe for a chicken liver pate, (a mousse really), that I thought would work quite well. Playing on the theme of marrying French and Vietnamese cuisines, the mousse was a traditional French preparation that included chicken livers sautéed in butter and shallots, then a flambé with brandy. Then more butter, (a lot of butter actually), thyme and cream. It was lush, silky, liver-rich and one of the three decadent elements of my Banh Mi, (the other two being roasted pork belly and sriracha mayonnaise).
Banh Mi 010.JPG

Banh Mi 036.JPG

Banh Mi 039.JPG

And yes, I can now support the statement that the “crumbs are a badge of honor.”

#49 LindaK

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 08:34 PM

Congratulations on your first bahn mi. It looks very tasty, but also very American. Too much, too big. Think French style, not NYC deli style. Much less pate. Thin slices of meat. Heavier on the salad than the meat. Sliver your veggies for pickles instead of using thick slices. And It looks like you're missing fresh jalapenos (not sriracha, please). Did you use cilantro? that's key for this sandwich. See Bruce's pic above, he's got the ratio right.

Keep at it, it will be a tasty journey. Enjoy the crumbs!


 


#50 Pierogi

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Posted 07 July 2012 - 09:32 PM

Due to the harmonious convergence of this eG cook-off, and my having checked Andrea Nguyen’s “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” out of the library a week or so ago, I decided to take the banh mi plunge as well.

Earlier this week, I’d made Nguyen’s “garlic roasted chicken” using chicken parts I’d had in the freezer for a while. 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks and a breast. That recipe was a dead-bang winner, but left solitary eater me with leftover chicken up the you-know-what. Before the book went back to the library yesterday, I copied out her recipe for banh mi and also for a spicy chicken salad with cabbage that will kill the last of the garlic roast chicken. As Bruce (C. sapidus) noted upstream, Nguyen’s banh mi recipe also gives you the recipe for the daikon/carrot pickle, which I also followed (with a minor tweak…..).

Verdict ! Another dead-bang winner !!! Boy was this a mouthful of yummy. I used “French” rolls from a local “gourmet/organic” grocery store (Sprouts, for those of you in the southwest). Following Nguyen’s suggestions, I hollowed out the bready part of the roll, and tossed it into the oven at 325° for about 5 minutes to crisp up. I took it out when I could smell toasty bread.

Bottom layer was Best Foods mayo, drizzled with a copious amount of Maggi. Followed by schmears of an “herbed” liver sausage from the same grocery store. Then the shredded roast garlic chicken. For this I used the remaining dark meat, after having stripped off the skin. Then ribbons of cucumber that I shaved off with my veggie peeler. Then very, very thinly sliced jalapeños, seeds and all. Then herbs. Nguyen suggests only cilantro, which I certainly used. But I also mixed a couple of leaves of mint with a couple of leaves of “normal” basil, and shredded them finely. I used more cilantro than the mint/basil mix, but I liked the addition of that, and will keep it in future renditions. Then the pickle. I’d taken my julienne cutter (looks like a veggie peeler, only has a julienne blade) and cut thin strips of both a carrot and a daikon. I had a handful of red radishes I needed to use, so I just sliced them into thin half-moons and threw them into the mix. Toss around with sugar and salt for a bit to wilt, rinse and drain, then cover with white vinegar mixed with more sugar and water, and let mellow for at least an hour before you use it. I’m sure it’ll taste better after sitting in the fridge for a day or so, but it was still pretty good after only a couple of hours.

Here's the little pretty before closure:

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And the money shot:

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Yeah, I *will* be buying this book ! (THANKS, Bruce !)
--Roberta--
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My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

#51 David Ross

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 04:12 AM

Congratulations on your first bahn mi. It looks very tasty, but also very American. Too much, too big. Think French style, not NYC deli style. Much less pate. Thin slices of meat. Heavier on the salad than the meat. Sliver your veggies for pickles instead of using thick slices. And It looks like you're missing fresh jalapenos (not sriracha, please). Did you use cilantro? that's key for this sandwich. See Bruce's pic above, he's got the ratio right.

Keep at it, it will be a tasty journey. Enjoy the crumbs!

Yes, plenty of cilantro. In all honesty, this was so good that even though it might not have technically been a spot-on Banh Mi, I'm not sure I would want to change it at all. Thanks for the suggestions though, if I can control my inner carnivore, I'll try more salad than meat when I make the red-cooked pork Banh Mi.

#52 LindaK

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 05:39 AM

I'm envious of the folks who can get access to the proper baguettes. Last week I stopped into several bakeries in Chinatown (after having bought a bahn mi with shredded pork) and none of them had baguettes for sale. The folks who sold me the bahn mi told me they buy their bread from a bakery that doesn't sell retail. Maybe if enough of us keep asking at any of our local bakeries, someone will realize that there's a market for them.

PS--that's a beauty, Pierogi!


 


#53 rotuts

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 06:11 AM

Id also like to know where they buy the pate etc for those same bahn mi, its the same in two of the shops in Chinatown BOS.

#54 Katie Meadow

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 12:19 PM

David, your pork belly looks fantastic if not traditional. And yes, I have used roast duck purchased in Chinatown for banh mi as well as home made char siu, the red BBQ pork stuff from Chinatown, grilled chicken and grilled shrimp. I have found that buying roast duck necessitates a little labor, since the meat (and some crispy skin) really does need to be pulled off the bones before assembly. I suppose one could make one's own roast or grilled duck breast and solve that problem, but I am far too lazy to do that, and besides, it is easy for me to get to Chinatown Oakland. And I'm guessing it's cheaper than purchasing raw duck breast from your butcher. As for the carrot daikon pickle, Andrea's recipe has never failed me. After experimenting with the coarse vs. fine graters on my processor I definitely think coarse is better, and it retains its crunchy texture quite well.

Thanks Bruce for elaborating your grilling process. I will take your advice and make sure I have a generous amount of the marinade when I get it together to make my sandwiches.

Oh, just a note about pate. I like to use a simple relatively smooth chicken liver pate, french style. There's one my gourmet market sells that I like very much, and, honestly, it wouldn't occur to me to look for it in Chinatown. If you are willing to use a regular baguette or a mexican roll and make your own Asian style grilled meat a terrific and traditional banh mi can be made without the need for a Chinatown or even an Asian grocery.

Edited by Katie Meadow, 08 July 2012 - 12:29 PM.


#55 David Ross

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 06:02 PM

You know, what's somewhat ironic about this discussion of "Americanized" Banh Mi is the fact that I typically am a traditionalist when we do these cook-offs. No fluffy, trendy, chi-chi, "fusion" blends of an authentic dish ever creep into my thinking when I'm planning a dish. Yet this cook-off I've veered off the path, (albeit in my mind not too far), to test the waters of crafting a Banh Mi to suit my own tastes. And respectfully putting conventional wisdom aside for a moment, that was a really, really good sandwich. I'm a little more, (just a little), convinced that one can fudge a bit in the kitchen and still come up with something quite tasty.

The next Banh Mi I'll be doing will also test the borders of tradition, but not too far. At least I don't think so.

#56 LindaK

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Posted 08 July 2012 - 08:07 PM

You know, what's somewhat ironic about this discussion of "Americanized" Banh Mi is the fact that I typically am a traditionalist when we do these cook-offs. No fluffy, trendy, chi-chi, "fusion" blends of an authentic dish ever creep into my thinking when I'm planning a dish. Yet this cook-off I've veered off the path, (albeit in my mind not too far), to test the waters of crafting a Banh Mi to suit my own tastes. And respectfully putting conventional wisdom aside for a moment, that was a really, really good sandwich. I'm a little more, (just a little), convinced that one can fudge a bit in the kitchen and still come up with something quite tasty.

David, I have no doubt that your sandwich was delicious, it certainly looked so to me. The only reason I commented on it being an "Americanized" version is because you noted at the start of this topic that you'd never had bahn mi before. I find it helpful to understand the baseline before i veer away from it and thought you might too.

These days there are many riffs on bahn mi, between food trucks and restaurants, but even the tasty variations leave me craving the standard. A really good one gets the balance of flavors just so...

Looking forward to yur next one.


 


#57 hongda

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 10:16 AM

Most of the banh mi shops will sell their Pate and deli meats separately. When we used to live far from any supplier, we would just load up on all the ingredients except the bread, then get that from our local Fred Meyer's.

#58 rotuts

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 11:21 AM

Wow! Ill ask. guessing you live in a lucky place!

Edited by rotuts, 09 July 2012 - 11:24 AM.


#59 hongda

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 05:05 PM

Hmm, that's why it tastes more gamey... it's pork pate.



#60 David Ross

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Posted 09 July 2012 - 05:44 PM


You know, what's somewhat ironic about this discussion of "Americanized" Banh Mi is the fact that I typically am a traditionalist when we do these cook-offs. No fluffy, trendy, chi-chi, "fusion" blends of an authentic dish ever creep into my thinking when I'm planning a dish. Yet this cook-off I've veered off the path, (albeit in my mind not too far), to test the waters of crafting a Banh Mi to suit my own tastes. And respectfully putting conventional wisdom aside for a moment, that was a really, really good sandwich. I'm a little more, (just a little), convinced that one can fudge a bit in the kitchen and still come up with something quite tasty.

David, I have no doubt that your sandwich was delicious, it certainly looked so to me. The only reason I commented on it being an "Americanized" version is because you noted at the start of this topic that you'd never had bahn mi before. I find it helpful to understand the baseline before i veer away from it and thought you might too.

These days there are many riffs on bahn mi, between food trucks and restaurants, but even the tasty variations leave me craving the standard. A really good one gets the balance of flavors just so...

Looking forward to yur next one.

As fate would have it, I found a Pho shop just blocks away from the Asian grocery store. I'm going to try a few of their Banh Mi on Friday and I'll report back as to whether or not I prefer their version over what I made at home. I think it will give me a better idea of the ratio of meat, veg and sauce/pate.





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