pork bahn mi sandwich
Have you ever gotten an idea in your head and it just won't leave you alone until you take some sort of action on it? Well that's what happened to me. Someone mentioned how much they were craving a Bahn Mi sandwich (spoiler: it was Sakya), and I was flooded with memories of Houston, where I grew up. There was a huge Vietnamese community there and they had amazing mom and pop restaurants and the Bahn Mi sandwiches were AMAZING! Now I am not saying that Chicago doesn't have amazing ones here somewhere but I wanted one NOW and I didn't want to be sad if it didn't live up to the thoughts and memories in my head. So what is a girl to do but make her own version!
NOW, before I get messages and admonishments that this is NOT an authentic recipe - I agree! But guess what? I can make the sandwich of my dreams to suit my tastes! This is important because I absolutely do not like lemongrass. That is usually a component of authentic Bahn Mi's and I prefer mine without. Also, I like lots of flavor in my pork - like I want to make it count...so if I make mine a fatty version...that's my prerogative as the sole designer of my food dreams. Now I will say, THIS IS MAYBE ONE OF THE BEST THINGS THAT I HAVE EVER MADE. So, there.
One of the tricks to a successful Bahn Mi is to get your pork slices thin. If you can get your butcher to do it for you, they can definitely get it thinner than you ever would and it would make this recipe super easy to put together. The other secret is to let the meat marinate overnight. You want that flavor to seep all the way through...trust me, it's soooo worth it! Now, I did marinate mine overnight but the line to the butcher's counter was too deep for me so I hacked my pork as thin as I could at home which took forever and wasn't too thin (like at all). But honestly, it didn't even matter because the flavor was amazing...so the more pork per bite, the better I say!
Honesty, the components of this beyond amazing sandwich came together super fast. ESPECIALLY if you have a mandolin like I do. You can certainly use a food processor or slice things up by hand but I have one of those nifty mandolins that have a ton of attachments so it all came together pretty quickly. JUST WATCH THOSE FINGERS! This is one of those recipes that you want to take your time on the cuts of your veggies. It makes a difference!
So there are a few components to this recipe but each one is pretty straight forward and easy. First you want to quick pickle your carrots and daikon and get your pork in the oven. Normally, you would grill your pork but as ya'll all know by now, I can't work a grill nor do I want to stand over a grill when my oven can do the work. While that's happening you can pull the other things together to build your sandwich. The results? Phenomenal!
Also, the mandolin makes all these pretty perfectly thin slices that really just makes everything look and taste perfect too! Dang it, now my mouth is watering again! Let's get to the recipe!
Pork Bahn Mi
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
1 large daikon, cut into matchsticks
1 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar (to release water)
1 and 1/2 tablespoons salt (to release water)
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup white vinegar
2 lbs boneless pork butt, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices, 8-in length by 2 1/2-in width
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons ground black pepper
5 shallots, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 8-in French baguette, sliced lengthwise
3 Tbsp mayonnaise mixed with 1 Tbsp Sriracha
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro leaves
The day before marinate the pork and pickle the vegetables.
First make the picked veggies: Chop the carrots and daikon into matchsticks. Use a mandolin or just chop them up thinly and don't stress too much about it! Add them to a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 and 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1 and 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Use your hands to massage the sugar and salt into the veggies to release water, so that they will be flexible but still crunchy. After 15 minutes of sitting in the salt and sugar, you should be able to bend a carrot without it snapping. Pour the veggies into a colander and rinse them under water until all the salt and sugar is washed off. Rinse out the bowl and make the brine: combine 1/2 sugar and 1 cup warm water, and stir to dissolve. Add the vinegar and a few shakes of salt. Stir it all together. Add the rinsed carrots and daikon to the vinegar mixture, make sure all the veggies are covered, and stick it in the fridge until the rest of your sandwich comes together.
Second, marinate the pork. In a bowl, mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the pork. Mix thoroughly and store in the fridge overnight.
Next day: preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange the marinated pork (get rid of excess marinate) and lay out on a large sheet pan in a single layer. Don't crowd it so that it caramelizes on all edges. Cook for 20 minutes but check on it after 15 minutes as ovens vary and the thinness of your pork will determine cooking time. The pork should be nicely caramelized and cooked all the way through. For the last few minutes of cooking time, add your bread (cut side up) to the oven to toast up.
Let the pork rest while you put the rest of the sandwich components together. Spread the sriracha mayonnaise liberally on the baguette on each side and add the cucumber and jalapeno slices on each side. Top with a few grilled pork slices. Top the pork with pickled carrots and daikon and cilantro leaves. Cut the baguette into halves and serve immediately.
I could seriously eat this every day!!! You can easily put this in a bowl to avoid the bread because the pork itself is EVERYTHING! This really may be one of the most delicious things that I have made to date. If you get a chance to make this, please let me know what you think and take a photo and tag me on Insta at @themonskerlife. I would love to see what ya'll think!