Thursday, June 9, 2011

Vegetarian Bánh Mí Sandwich

I'll admit it...the description of this sandwich sounds horrible: pickled carrots and radish, paté, cilantro, sriracha mayo. It kinda seems like the cook got confused somewhere along the way, but really, the original bánh mí is one of the world's oldest fusion cuisines. The sandwich in question came about after the French colonized Vietnam in the late 1800's. Along with a healthy dose of oppression, the French brought along baguette and paté, so the Vietnamese took that and added the pickles, hot sauce, and other traditional condiments. The result is the exact opposite of horrible; in fact, it is one of my favorite foods on the planet. It's rich, crunchy, sweet, sour, hot, and salty -- it has it all!

Pickled Carrots and Daikon (Do Chua):

1 medium daikon radish
2 medium carrots
2 cups rice wine vinegar
1 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 cup salt

Shred both the radish and carrot with a julienne peeler and place into a container. Add remaining ingredients, stir to dissolve salt and sugar, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. They are best if they are left for 24 hours and will keep up to a month.

Mushroom Paté:

10 ounces mushrooms (shiitake or cremini)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 shallot (sliced)
1 tablespoon Braggs or soy sauce
black pepper

In a pan over medium-high heat, allow the oil to come up to temperature. Once the oil starts to shimmer, sauté slices of mushrooms until they begin to brown. Next, add the shallot and the Braggs. Allow this to cook for a few seconds more while constantly moving the mixture around in the pan. Place the contents of the pan into a food processor, add plenty of black pepper, and blend until almost smooth.

Sriracha mayo: Mix 3 parts mayo (or vegan mayo) with one part sriacha. (You may use less sriacha if you are a total sissy.)

Vegetarian Bánh Mí Sandwiches:

6 eggs (or 1 block of tofu or tempeh)
1 long crispy baguette (or 6 small baguette buns)
mushroom paté
sriracha mayo
1 seedless cucumber (thinly sliced)
pickled carrots and daikon
3 green onions (sliced)
handful of cilantro leaves
salt & pepper

Fry eggs over hard in a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cover, and set aside. If you are using tofu or tempeh, pan-fry thin slices in a bit of olive oil. Warm bread in a 350 degree oven until the outside becomes crispy. Slice baguette along one side but leave the other side intact, like a hinge. Spread the top with sriracha mayo and the bottom with mushroom paté. Begin to layer in your ingredients starting with your protein, cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, onions, and cilantro. Right before taking a bite, squeeze a lime onto the sandwich filling.