I cannot get enough of these marvelous sandwiches. Sweet-tart, savory, spicy, cool, crunchy…they have it all. Banh mi originated as a beautiful adaptation of the classic baguette sandwiches that the French introduced to Vietnam in the early 20th century. Many still have pâté or other classic charcuterie included in the ingredients list. What sets these beauties apart is the very Vietnamese addition of pickled vegetables, fresh cilantro, zesty chiles and cool cucumber slices. From there the variations are endless. Start here and let your imagination run wild!
Makes 4 sandwiches
For the Salmon:
12-ounce filet of fresh salmon, bones and skin removed
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Freshly cracked pepper to taste
Cut the salmon 8 slices, crosswise, and lay them out on a work surface. Combine the next 3 ingredients and brush generously on the salmon. Heat a little vegetable oil in a cast iron or heavy skillet over medium high heat and sear the salmon until caramelized on both sides. (About 1 minute to a side) Remove to a platter. The salmon is delicious if it is still warm when the sandwiches are made. However, if you are not going to eat the sandwiches right away, chill the salmon before composing.
For the quick pickled radishes and carrots:
1 large daikon radish, peeled and cut into matchstick lengths (see the video for how-to)
2 or 3 carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick lengths
3-4 radishes, sliced in rounds
3/4 cup rice vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
Place the vegetables in a bowl. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the warm pickling liquid over the vegetables and allow to marinate at least 1 hour and up to overnight. When you are ready to prepare your sandwiches, remove the amount of veggies you need and store the rest in your refrigerator up to 3 weeks.
To compose the sandwiches:
Four 6 or 7-inch lengths of baguette
1 English cucumber
Mayonnaise (link to recipe for homemade mayo)
8-12 sprigs cilantro
12 thin slices jalapeno chile
Choose baguette that has a thin crispy crust and a fluffy interior. Cut them open, leaving them hinged. Tear a little of the bread out of each half to slightly hollow it.
With a vegetable peeler, cut thin strips of cucumber the same length as the baguette. Make 3 or 4 for each sandwich. If you like, you may sprinkle the cucumber with a little fish sauce or just a dash of salt and sugar.
If you like your mayo a little zestier stir in a squeeze of fresh lime and a little hot chili sauce.
For each sandwich: spread the inside with mayonnaise and place 2 pieces of salmon on the bottom. Layer the sliced cucumber, pickled vegetables, sliced jalapeno and cilantro sprigs on top.
Wrap the sandwiches in butcher or parchment paper for travel, or just use both hands and eat it immediately!
Homemade Olive Oil Mayonnaise
Makes about 1 3/4 cups
3 coddled egg yolks (see note)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil (or you may use as blend with your favorite flavorful oil, such as almond, macadamia or avocado)
Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, mustard and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend. With the machine running, pour the oil in a very thin stream through the feed tube until the consistency is thick and smooth.
Adjust the seasoning to your taste with additional salt, lemon juice or perhaps a splash of hot sauce.
Note: to coddle an egg, place it in barely simmering water for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes. (no longer) This will bring the egg to a safe temperature. Remove it and immediately crack it into a bowl. The white may turn a bit translucent, but it will still serve as a perfect base for emulsion. To use only the yolks, remove the yolk from the white by using the sharp edge of one of the halved egg shells as a scoop