Báhn Mì

By Ryan McKay

The Báhn Mì, otherwise known loosely as “bread” in Vietnam, is a generic name of a filled bread roll served street side for any of the three major meals of the day (and everything in between). This French-Vietnamese fusion food has taken root here in America, and for good reason. The well-balanced sandwich has a thin-crusted French roll stuffed with grilled pork (or pretty much anything under the sun, literally), spiced mayo, sliced cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, sliced jalapeno, chopped cilantro ….  Shall I continue or are you already sold?

The combination of well-seasoned protein (or tofu) coupled with fresh vegetables all hugged by heavenly bread is not new to most (Eat Fresh?), but this particularly delicious combination most likely will be. And what a shame it hasn’t gotten more exposure; otherwise, this would have found a home (and heavy rotation) into firehouses sooner.

A few after the fire critiques: I added a teriyaki sauce to the pork, but because of the brine, it will be plenty flavorful for most, so feel free to skip the sauce if you so choose. Also, I went with pork, but it’s not uncommon to use traditional pâté, grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu (always thinking of you Vegans), meatballs in tomato sauce, sardines, fired eggs, etc.–it’s all good. I also decided to use radishes since most grocery stores where I live don’t carry daikon (or even know what it is, and those that do have their stock sit on the shelf so long it becomes flimsy). Lastly, consider topping with a spicy chili paste of your choice.

 

Fuel:

Pork Shoulder or Loin (3-4 lbs.)

French Rolls (6-8)

Carrots (preshredded bag or 4-5 medium carrots)

Daikon (1 medium) or Radishes (small bag 20-25)

English Cucumber (Deseeded and sliced)

Jalapeño (thinly sliced)

Cilantro (just the leaves, please)

Salt

 

Pork Brine

Whole Black Peppercorns  (1 tsp.)

Whole Coriander Seeds (1 tsp.)

Crush Red Pepper Flakes (1 tsp.)

Serrano Chiles (2 minced)

Garlic (2-3 cloves, minced)

Sugar (2 Tbs.)

Salt (1 Tbs.)

 

Fish Aioli

Mayo (½ Cup)

Fish Sauce (1 tsp.)

Lemon Juice (1 tsp.)

 

Teriyaki Sauce

Brown Sugar  (⅓ cup)

Soy Sauce (⅓ cup)

Honey (1 Tbs.)

Fish Sauce (1 tsp.)

Toasted Sesame Oil (¼ tsp.)

 

Pickling Fluid

Rice Wine Vinegar (1 Cup)

Hot Water (1 Cup)

Sugar (2 Tbs.)

Salt (1 Tbs.)

 

Tools:

Large Deep Pot

Large Deep-Sided Skillet or Cast Iron Pan

Baking Sheet

Small Skillet

Various Bowls

Mandolin (if possible, you’ll want it)

Mortar & Pestle

Colander

Cooking Spray

 

Tactics:

Teriyaki Pork

In a skillet over medium heat, add the peppercorn, coriander, and crushed red pepper; toss frequently to avoid burning; toast till aromatic, 3-5 minutes. Place them in a mortar & pestle along with the Serrano chilies, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Ground until a paste has been formed. In a large pot or bowl, place the paste and 2 cups of hot water and mix till combine. Add ice cubes and cold water and mix till the cubes have melted and the water is cool. Add the pork (ensuring there is enough brine to cover) and then refrigerate a minimum of 4 hours (or up to over night).

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the pork, wash over running water, then pat dry with paper towels. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray, place the pork in the middle, season with salt, and then roast in the oven for 20 minutes per pound. Remove when the internal temperature registers 145°F (we’ll be cooking it again later). Let it rest for 15-20 minutes, then thinly slice into bite-size strips.

In a large deep-sided pan over medium-high heat, add the soy sauce, brown sugar, honey, fish sauce, toasted sesame sauce, and water (1 Tbs.) and bring to a low, simmering boil. Reduce by about half and thicken. Add the pork, toss to coat, and raise the heat to high. Sear the meat till the sauce has slightly caramelized (3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve.

 

Pickled Veggies

Using either a mandolin or knife, cut the carrots and daikon/radishes into julienned slices.  Place the veggies into a colander, aggressively salt (2-3 tbs.) while tossing to coat, and allow to sit for 30 minutes. Rinse under running cold water until the salt has been removed.

Meanwhile, add the sugar, salt, and hot water in a bowl and mix till the crystals dissolve. Add the rice wine vinegar and mix. Place the veggies in and ensure it covers. Allow it to cool then refrigerate and reserve.

 

Fish Aioli

Place the mayo, fish sauce, and lemon juice into a small bowl and mix till combined. Refrigerate and reserve.

 

To Assemble the Báhn Mì

Slice the rolls lengthwise; apply a lathering of the aioli; and layer the pork, cucumber, pickled veggies, jalapeño, and cilantro. Place on the baking sheet, put in the still-warm oven, and toast for 2 minutes until warmed. Serve immediately.

 

Ryan McKay is a 13-year fire service veteran and a firehouse cook from Atlanta, Georgia. His goal is to bring the fast-paced lifestyle of the fire service with the slow-paced art of cultivating family and crew through the tool that is food. He has made an appearance on NBC’s primetime show “Food Fighters,” is a co-founder of the Metro Atlanta EMS Conference, and works intimately with the SafePath Child Advocacy Center.

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