Bánh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)

Bánh mi sandwiches combine comfort

Originally appeared in the May 17, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

The popularity of Americanized “street food” continues to grow.  There have even been television shows solely dedicated to fare on-the-fly.  And throughout Indy, trendy food trucks act as a veritable “Where’s Waldo?” of catch-it-while-you-can service.

The Vietnamese sandwich bánh mi has a long tradition of providing humble comfort with economic ingredients.  But it’s literally the idea of a sandwich—an amalgamation of flavorful ingredients, book-ended between bread—that holds it all together.

For this variation, I’ve assembled a bánh mi with marinated, thinly-sliced strip steak, paired with a radish and carrot pickle mix.  Prep your marinade and brine ahead of time so that when it comes to construction, you can operate just as quick as one of those lightning-fast street food vendors.  The red leaf lettuce provides a cool, crisp crunch, and the cilantro chimes in with notes of citrus.

As always, I encourage you to cobble together your own permutation.  Classic “body” fillings include barbecued pork, meatballs, grilled chicken, sardines, fried eggs, and tofu (just to name a few).  And use your imagination with the condiments—heck, if pâté tickles your fancy, go for it.  Whether it’s slow-at-home or on-the-go, bánh mi is about combining comfort.

Bánh mi (Vietnamese sandwich)

Serves 2

Marinade

  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

Pickled radish and carrot

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into thin strips
  • 4 – 5 radishes, cut into matchsticks
  • ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons plus ¾ cups sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • 1 pound strip steak, trimmed
  • 4 washed leaves of red-leaf lettuce or romaine
  • As needed, fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 1 French baguette, sliced into sandwich-sized portions

1.  Combine marinade by whisking in a bowl.  Place trimmed strip steak in a plastic storage bag and pour in marinade.  Allow to marinate for at least four hours (overnight is ideal).  Prepare your remaining sandwich toppings.

2.  For pickle: Combine vinegar, ¾ cups sugar, and water.  Place carrot and radish in a bowl and sprinkle on salt and 2 teaspoons sugar.  Use your fingers to “massage” the vegetables, rubbing the coarse salt and sugar into the vegetables.  Carrot and radish will begin to render liquid and go limp; continue for 2 – 3 minutes.  Strain under cold running water to wash off salt and sugar.  Pour brine over pickle mixture and set aside (preferably for a few hours).

3.  Pan-sear marinated strip steak over medium-high heat.  Cook until you’ve achieved desired doneness.  Slice thin and pile onto baguette bread with lettuce, cilantro, and carrot-radish pickle mix.

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 5:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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Spring into action with this “sandwich”

Originally appeared in the May 10, 2012 edition of the Southside Times.

Yeah, yeah, I know—a sandwich should contain some sort of “body”; one or more condiments; perhaps a garnish or two; and (save the open-faced variation) all these components compressed between two slices of bread (toasted or not is a topic that will have to wait for another installment of this humble column).  But who says your sandwich has to be bookended with bread?

Today’s recipe isn’t so much a recipe as it is a suggestion:  Look at your ingredients with a bit of nuance.  Here, this sandwich consists or two, sweet slices of tomato and a thick disc of fresh mozzarella “sandwiched” between a couple earthy medallions of Portobello mushroom.  The condiment is drizzled basil oil.  I’ve used skewers to hold the ingredients in place slicing and presentation.  This savory strata makes a guilt-free snack or healthful entrée—something you can eat and then retreat to a springtime activity  (I can’t remember the last time I ate a Frisco Melt, but I’m sure I didn’t feel like taking a walk around the block after consuming it).

Chips are a nice, crunchy compliment, and there are plenty of baked permutations to honor the healthy theme of this dish.  Hungry?

 

Portobello, tomato, and mozzarella sandwich skewers with basil oil

Serves 2

  • 4 large Portobello mushroom caps
  • 2 large plum tomato
  • 2 thick slice fresh mozzarella
  • 2 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • 8 ounces extra virgin olive oil

1.  For basil oil: stir basil leaves into boiling water for 60 seconds until color becomes vibrant.  Quickly “shock” the basil in ice-water to retain color.  Remove, pat dry, and add to a blender; pour in olive oil and blend (adding more oil if needed) until oil is bright green.  Strain mixture through mesh sieve and set aside.

2.  Using round biscuit cutters, cut through two thick slices of fresh mozzarella; reserve dics; and use the biscuit cutters to punch-out four medallions from the Portobello caps and reserve.  Slice tomatoes into four thick dics.

3.  Stack sandwiches as follows: mushroom, tomato, and mozzarella, then repeat backwards with another slice of tomato and mushroom.  Insert four skewers evenly at 2-, 4-, 8-, and 10-o’clock positions, and cut down between the skewers, yielding four triangle chunks.  Serve sandwich skewers with basil and crispy potato chips.

Published in: on May 21, 2012 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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