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Bánh Mì with Red-Cooked Pork

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Serves 4-6

  • by Robert Danhi from web only

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.

Video: Robert Danhi prepares each component of the Bánh Mì Sandwich.

For the Red-Cooked Pork:
  • 1 lb. pork shoulder (bone-in or boneless), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
  • 3 Tbs. dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. light soy sauce (i.e. "thin" or "regular" soy sauce)
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
For the Pickled Vegetables:
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 cups julienned carrots (about 1/8 inch thick)
  • 1-1/2 cups julienned daikon (about 1/8 inch thick)
To Finish the Sandwiches:
  • 2 thin-crusted baguettes, partially split lengthwise (leave the spine uncut)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 lb. country-style French pork pate, beaten until spreadable (add butter, if needed, to soften)
  • 1 small cucumber, preferably Kirby, cut into 1/8-inch-thick julienne strips
  • 6 leaves green leaf lettuce
  • 1/4 cup julienned scallions (white and green parts, cut into 2-inch lengths)
  • 1/4 cup pork floss (optional)
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 16 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 Tbs. fish sauce
Make the red-cooked pork:

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.

Make the pickled vegetables:

Whisk the vinegar, sugar, and salt together until dissolved. Add the carrots and daikon and toss well. Marinate for at least 30 minutes, or up to one day. Drain the pickles well before putting them in the sandwich.

Make the sandwiches:

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.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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