By Chef Nick Schneider
For each sandwich:
1 petit baguette roll or a 7-inch section cut from a regular length baguette,
purchased or homemade mayonnaise,
Vietnamese Grilled Lemongrass Pork, 3-4 oz. (recipe follows)
3 or 4 thin seeded cucumber strips, pickling or English variety preferred
2 or 3 cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
3 or 4 thin jalapeño pepper slices, optional
Daikon and Carrot Pickle
1. Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use your fingers or a bread knife to hollow out the insides, making a trough in both halves. Discard the insides or save it for another use, such as breadcrumbs. If necessary, crisp up the bread in a toaster oven preheated to 325ºF, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.
2. Spread the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Start from the bottom portion of bread to layer in the remaining ingredients. (As with all sandwiches, you’ll eventually develop an order for layering the filling so as to maximize the interaction between flavors and textures.) Close the sandwich, cut it in half crosswise for easy eating, and enjoy.
Vietnamese Restaurant-Style Grilled Lemongrass Pork
The pork for this sandwich is also sometimes braised. This is the grilled version. You can use this marinade with small pieces of pork and thread them on skewers and dip them in some nuoc cham dipping sauce. If there’s no lemongrass, use about 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder instead. Feel free to stuff leftovers into banh mi sandwiches.
1 pound boneless pork shoulder steak, about 1/2 inch thick
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
1 tablespoon chopped shallot or yellow onion
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped (3 tablespoons) (avail. at the market fresh in Sept. and Oct., dried sold in bulk at TC Co-ops).
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon oil
1. Cut the pork shoulder steak into cutlet-sized pieces about ½ inch thick and 3-4 inches long.
2. Put the sugar, garlic, shallot and lemongrass into a food processor and process to a fine texture. (Or, mince by hand adding sugar last.) Add the pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce, and oil and process to combine well. Aim for a relatively smooth texture. The marinade will be chocolate brown. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the pork, and turn to coat well. Cover and set aside at room temperature to marinate for 1 hour. Or, refrigerate up to 24 hours, letting the meat sit out at room temperature for 30-45 minutes to remove some of the chill before grilling.
4. Preheat a grill to medium-high. Oil the grill. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Transfer to a plate, loosely cover with foil or an inverted bowl for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Vietnamese Daikon Carrot Quick Pickle
Makes about 3 cups
3 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1 # daikon, each no larger than 2 inches in diameter peeled and cut into thick matchsticks
1.5 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup sugar
1 and 1/3 cups unseasoned Rice vinegar
1 cup lukewarm water
1. Place the carrot and daikon in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. Drain in a colander and rinse briefly under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return the vegetables to the bowl.
2. To make the brine, in a bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, pinch of salt and the water and whisk well to dissolve in solution (or shake in a jar). Pour over the vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Beyond that point, they get tired.