Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Meatball Banh Mi

(Sorry, another dark picture....)

I've read about banh mi sandwiches for quite some time. Then a couple of months ago, I saw a recipe for them in Bon Appetit that looked like something I could possibly handle. I've yet to have an authentic banh mi, so I don't know how well this recipe rates. We loved it though. Curtis and I had sandwiches as pictured above. The kids just had meatball sandwiches (alas, without the veggies).

Cooking teaches me things about culture and geography. For example, it's only been since really getting interested in food that I've learned that there are French and Vietnamese connections. If I am remembering correctly, the French occupied ("colonized") Vietnam for about 50 years. Thus, in Vietnamese cooking, there are some French influences, for example, meatball and carrot/daikon vinegar sandwiches on baguettes.

These were tasty sandwiches. The original recipe says it will serve 4, but that is if each person eats a 10" long sandwich. I don't eat 10" long sandwiches (nor does anyone in my family). I think this will serve more like 6, possible 8 if the the sandwiches are made very small. I will definitely make these again!

Meatball Banh Mi
adapted from Bon Appetit

Pickled Vegetables
2 c carrots, coarsely grated
2 c peeled daikon, coursely grated
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 c sugar
1 t coarse kosher salt

Hot Chili Mayo
2/3 c mayo
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 T hot chili sauce (like sriracha)

1 lb ground beef or pork
1/4 c finely chopped fresh basil (I omitted this because I didn't have)
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 T fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 T hot chili sauce (optional)
1 T sugar
2 t cornstarch
1 t black pepper
1 t coarse kosher salt

1 T sesame oil
2 long baguettes, cut into sandwiches of desired size
thinly sliced jalapeno chiles (optional)
16 fresh cilantro sprigs

Pickled Vegetables: Toss all ingredients together in a medium bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, tossing occasionally.

Hot Chili Mayo: Stir all ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt. Cover and chill until you are ready to use.

Meatballs: Gently mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Roll meat mixture in to 1" meatballs (about a scant tablespoon per meatball). Place on baking sheet, plate or desired surface until ready to cook. Heat 1 T sesame oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs (or however many will fit without crowding). Saute meatballs until brown and cooked through, turning meatballs often and lowering heat if browning too quickly, about 15 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain, then put on baking sheet and place in preheated 300 degrees oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining meatballs.

To assemble sandwiches: Cut each baguette piece in half horizontally. Pull out enough bread half to leave 1/2" thick shell. Spread hot mayo over each shell. Arrange jalapenos and then cilantro in bottom halves. Fill each with enough meatballs to fill. Drain pickled vegetables and place a generous spoonful or two on top of meatballs. Press on baguette tops and serve.

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