Bánh Mì are one of the best products of the French-colonial influence on Vietnamese cuisine: a light, crisp baguette stuffed with paté, pickled vegetables, and fresh herbs. Fillings range from roasted pork to seafood; this version uses pork braised in a sweet soy sauce (a technique known as red-cooking). The best baguettes for this sandwich are actually supermarket variety; they have a thin crust and light center.
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Place the in a 2-qt. saucepan. Add the Shaoxing wine, dark and light soy sauces, star anise, cinnamon, and enough water to cover the pork.
Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and skim any scum from the surface. Simmer the pork, uncovered, until almost tender, about 1 hour (it shouldn’t be so tender that it’s falling apart). Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the pork cool to room temperature. Reserve the simmering liquid.
Spread 2 Tbs. of mayonnaise on the top half of the baguettes. Spread the pate on the bottom half of the baguettes.
Slice the pork on a slight diagonal as thinly as possible into bite-size pieces. Divide the pork evenly between the two baguettes. Top the pork with the well-drained pickled carrots and daikon, cucumber, lettuce, scallions, pork floss (if using), jalapeños, and cilantro.
Combine 6 Tbs. of the pork’s simmering liquid with the fish sauce. Drizzle the liquid over the sandwich filling. Cut each baguette crosswise into halves or thirds and serve.
Make Ahead Tips
The flavor of the red-cooked pork is better if you make it one day ahead and refrigerate it overnight in its cooking liquid. If you do make it ahead, bring the pork to room temperature before slicing it for the sandwiches: Remove it from the liquid, wrap with plastic, and let it rest on counter for 30 minutes or microwave for about 10 to 30 seconds to warm it up.
I was in Vietnam for a year back in 1969 and again in 2009. This Banh Mi sandwich reminds me of the real McCoy I was so fond of on the streets of Saigon, Pleiku and Ban me Touit.
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