recipe: my banh mi

By Wednesday, September 16, 2009 , , , , , ,

Anthony Bourdain visited Vietnam on a recent No Reservations and it got me hankering for a banh mi. I love the one at Mermaid Cafe, but they are not open for dinner (but should be!) so I had to come up with my own. It's definitely not what you would get in Vietnam, but it's vaguely reminiscent and sometimes that's just as good.

A traditional banh mi has julienned daikon in its "slaw," but since I’m trying to eat what is seasonal and local, the slaw in my recipe is comprised of carrots and broccoli stalks from our Driftless Organics CSA. The meats, both fresh and cured, vary from region to region and cook to cook, so I use roasted chicken breasts, as Pickle loves them, and took an idea from Gourmet’s recipe and use liverwurst instead of the traditional paté. This sandwich is all about assembly, so have everything prepped and ready to go before you start making the sandwiches. As the French say, "mise en place"… everything in its place!

Banh Mi
Serves 2, easily doubled

For the Slaw
1 small carrot, julienned
1 small broccoli stalk, julienned
Juice from ½ a lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon cane sugar

For the chicken
1 whole chicken breast, split – you will have leftovers, which I use for Pickle's dinner the following night, but it also makes great chicken salad.
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 teaspoon olive oil

For the sandwich
1 tablespoon fish sauce
½ tablespoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced on the diagonal
½ cup cilantro leaves and some stems
4 large or 8 small basil leaves, preferably Thai basil
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ inch disk of liverwurst, about 2 oz.
2 tablespoons mayonnaise mixed with one teaspoon Sriracha chile sauce
1 demi baguette or half a full-size baguette

Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in middle.

On a foil-lined cookie sheet, place the chicken breast halves. Coat with olive oil and then sprinkle with the 1 teaspoon five-spice powder, salt and pepper. Rub mixture into the skin to help penetrate. Roast for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool while prepping the other ingredients. When cool enough to handle, discard skin and shred meat into bite-size pieces and set aside.

Julienne carrot and broccoli stalk using the julienne blade on a mandolin or by hand. Stir together lime juice, vinegar, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss with vegetables. Let slaw stand, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Then, drain slaw in a colander.

Meanwhile, split the baguette and trim ends if overly bulbous and heat baguette cut-side-down on rack in oven until crusty, about 5 minutes.

Mix together sesame oil, fish sauce, and soy sauce and brush on cut sides of bread. Spread liverwurst on bottom layer of bread and top with chiles, onion, basil and cilantro and lettuce. Spread top layer of bread with chile mayonnaise.

On top of the other fillings, arrange chicken, then slaw. Top with the other half and cut sandwich into two servings.

Happy eating, -s

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