In these days of multicultural cuisine, tajines, curries and stir-fries grace British tables on a regular basis. Occasionally we stumble upon something a little more unusual, though.
After hearing about the Vietnamese banh mi I started to do some research and discovered there was only one place in town which offered them – and they were pretty disastrous. So I set out to make my own.
Banh mi may well be the ultimate fusion dish; the best of East meets West. The premise is simple – a baguette, halved and toasted, spread with liver sausage or pate, and a few slivers of grilled meat. Add fresh mint, coriander, pickled carrot, the Japanese radish daikon, long shards of cucumber and spring onion, then season with a dash of soy, fish sauce and fiery red chillies, plus a good splodge of mayonnaise.
It sounds like a cultural clash – but in reality it’s a fabulous melange. I shredded left-over duck into the sandwich because I had it to hand, but you can use whatever you fancy – chicken, pork, any cold cuts, even a British banger wouldn’t go amiss!
Banh mi (Serves 2
- 100g daikon/Japanese radish
- 1 medium carrot
- 100ml rice wine vinegar
- 3 tbs sugar
- Pinch of salt
- A handful of shredded meat – approx half a chicken breast each or equivalent
- A few slices of liver sausage or around 50-75g liver pate
- ¼ of a cucumber
- 2 tbs mayonnaise
- 4 spring onions
- A small bunch of mint
- A small bunch of coriander
- bird’s eye chilli, according to taste
- Half a baguette
First make the pickle. Peel and shred or grate the daikon and carrot. Place in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Leave for half an hour then squeeze out excess water.
While they are sitting, warm vinegar and sugar together until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool. Once cold, pour mixture over daikon and carrot and set aside. The result will keep in a jar for a few weeks. Leave for at least an hour or so.
Prepare rest of the ingredients. Deseed and slice cucumber into long strips. Cut spring onion into long strips, too. Finely chop mint and coriander. Deseed and finely slice chilli. If you want to soften its hit slightly, leave it in a little of the pickling liquid for the carrot for half an hour or so.
Warm baguette in oven and divide into two, then halve and toast lightly. Spoon on mayonnaise. Add ingredients one at a time – pate, meat, slices of cucumber, spring onion, a few pieces of the pickled vegetables, herbs and chilli.
Finally, season with a dash each of soy and fish sauce, wrap sandwich in greaseproof paper to keep all the goodies in and serve with sweet chilli sauce on the side.