Vietnamese Pork Banh Mi with Spicy Peanut Aioli
Chef Mai Pham
The baguettes used in banh mi sandwiches reflect the French influence on Vietnam when the country was part of French Indochina. Vietnam-born chef Pham gives the classic preparation a crunchy contrast with marinated carrots, cucumber and roasted peanuts; green herbs add fresh notes and a spicy peanut aioli offers a welcome creaminess.
2 tbsp. minced shallots
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. soy sauce, plus extra for garnish
1 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. light brown sugar
2 tbsp. minced lemongrass
1 lb. pork sirloin or pork butt, trimmed of any excess fat, cut into thin slices
1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus extra for grilling or cooking
4 baguette pieces (6 in. long), split lengthwise, half of the centers slightly hollowed out
¼ cup Spicy Peanut Aioli (recipe follows), or to taste
1/3 cup chopped roasted peanuts
2 cups marinated carrots (recipe follows)
¼ red onion, sliced paper-thin and rinsed
10 to 12 sprigs cilantro
1/3 cup Vietnamese rau ram or coriander or Thai basil leaves
½ hothouse cucumber, cut into thin strips
1 jalapeno, thinly sliced and seeded (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Spicy Peanut Aioli
Yield: 2/3 cup
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. peanut flour
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chili paste or dried chili flakes (optional)
Yield: 2 cups
½ cup sugar
½ cup white vinegar
½ tsp. salt
3 carrots, peeled, shredded into matchstick size strips, rinsed
1. Combine shallots, garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar and lemongrass in large bowl; mix well. Add pork; toss well to coat meat. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 min.
2. Preheat oiled grill to high. Grill pork slices just until done and slightly charred around the edges, about 1 to 2 min. on each side. (You can also cook the pork in a pan.) Remove from heat and keep warm.
3. Toast split baguette on the grill just until warm and crisp.
4. Spread inside of each baguette with Spicy Peanut Aioli. Layer from bottom up with pork slices, 2 tbsp. peanuts, 1/3 cup marinated carrots, 2 onion slices, 2 to 3 sprigs cilantro, 2 to 3 rau ram leaves, 2 cucumber strips, and 2 jalapeño slices.
5. Drizzle 1 tsp. soy sauce on top; season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Spicy Peanut Aioli
1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Allow to stand 15 min. before using.
1. Combine sugar, vinegar, and salt in small bowl; stir well. Add carrots; toss several times. Let marinate at least 20 min. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Photo courtesy of the National Peanut Board