Caramelized Pork Banh Mi

We are still on a serious Asian kick over here at Sargent’s, but also love fusion cuisine. The Banh Mi that was created in the Sargent’s kitchen a few days ago is so simple but so delicious. This sandwich would also be perfect in miniature form as a passed hors d’ouevre.

Banh Mi is a Vietnamese term meaning bread, and most commonly it is used to describe the baguette, which was introduced to Vietnam by the French during it’s colonial period. These baguettes are usually filled with proteins such as pan-roasted pork belly, grilled chicken, pate, fried eggs, tofu, sausages, meat balls, sardines, salmon etc., and they are often accompanied by fresh cucumber, radishes, cilantro, daikon, and pickled veggies. Common condiments include chili sauce, fresh sliced chilis, mayonnaise and cheese. Although the term banh mi means only bread, the implied term almost always means a delicious meat and veggie filled sandwich that is served at bakeries all over Vietnam and abroad, including the US, Canada, Australia, and any French communities with a substantial Vietnamese population. These sandwiches are the perfect fusion of French and Vietnamese cuisine and the one that chef Terry made is so delicious.

Serves 4-6

Caramelized Pork and Bánh mì Assembly

1-1.5 pound pork tenderloin

3 tablespoons Fish sauce

2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

1 tablespoon brown sugar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 slice ginger, minced

1 green onion, sliced thinly

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 loaf sweet French baguette (thin) or french bread sandwich rolls. Try to get the kind of French bread with a crisp crust and tender light center.

red leaf lettuce

pickled carrot and radishes (see below)

sliced jalapeno chili peppers

cilantro

Pâté (optional, but recommended) A mushroom duxelle would also be a delicious and low fat alternative and would keep with the French inspired recipe.

Mayonnaise

Cut tenderloin across the grain of the meat into ½ inch pieces. Flatten each piece to an even ¼ inch between two pieces of saran wrap using a meat pounder or rolling pin.

Mix ingredients from fish sauce to black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning – it should be sweet and savory so add more soy, salt, or sesame oil as you like. Coat in marinade. Marinate for 10-30 minutes.

You can cook the pork on the grill outdoors (best) or indoors using a grill pan or cast iron pan, something that you can get very hot. Heat grill or grill pan to high and turn on that vent fan! Add vegetable oil to meat and stir to coat. Sear first side of meat until very dark brown on one side, then flip and sear on the second side. Be careful not to overcook it. The meat is thin so it cooks quickly, one or two minutes on each side.

To assemble sandwiches, slice baguette and spread mayonnaise on one side, pâté on the other. Add lettuce, meat, pickled vegetables, cilantro and peppers.

Pickled Carrots and Radishes

1/4 pound baby carrots, peeled

1 bunch red radishes, preferably breakfast radishes (daikon are more traditional. I just think red radishes are beautiful.)

1/2 cup water

1 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

2 tablespoons sugar

Slice carrots and radishes into quarters lengthwise. Mix all ingredients together. Taste for seasoning. Let stand as little as an hour or up to overnight. They keep for several days.

For a southern twist use spicy Tennessee chow chow in place of the pickled vegetables.