Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Banh Mi: Vietnamese Submarine Sandwiches

What has savory Asian flavors sandwiched between two pieces of French baguette? I am describing banh mi the Vietnamese version of the sub sandwich. The original recipe from Bon Appetit/ Epicurious  called for daikon the Japanese radish, but I didn't have time to go to Chinatown to buy it. So I substituted celery and green pepper, which is what I had on hand. I think cucumber would also do. The important thing is to combine vegetables for their texture and color.
Vegetable Pickle
 2 cups coarsely grated carrot
1 cup coarsely grated celery or cucumber
1 cup coarsely grated sweet green pepper
1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Toss all the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside for at least 1 hour.

1 pound ground pork or ground chicken (I used chicken)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 scallions, finely minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I recommend Sriracha Sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Scoop up an even tablespoon of meat and roll into a 1 inch ball. Place on a baking tray. One pound of meat will make 24 meatballs.

1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil

In a 12 inch skillet, heat the sesame oil. Brown the meatballs, turning frequently, for 10-15 minutes. Cover the skillet and put it in the oven to keep warm.

Hot Chili Mayonnaise
2/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons scallions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I recommend Sriracha sauce)

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and refrigerate. This can be made a day ahead.

Assembling the Sandwiches
Split the bread horizontally. Using your fingers, dig out the center of the top and bottom of the bread.

Spread the hot chili mayonnaise generously on both sides of the bread. Put the cilantro on the bottom.

Layer the meatballs on top of the cilantro. About 6 meatballs per sandwich. Use a pair of tongs to lift out the pickled vegetables, lightly shaking off any excess liquid, and spread the vegetables evenly over the top of the meatballs. 
Close the "lid" and eat!

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