Recipes and Me

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Ultimate Summer Sandwich - Bahn Mi, Part 1

If you haven’t tried Bahn Mi before, you better get on it.  For those of you that know and love Bahn Mi, you understand why I’m dedicating a Part 1 and 2 to this special lunch treat.

Bahn Mi is a Vietnamese specialty.  It’s a sandwich consisting of a variety of fillings from grilled pork to lemongrass chicken to meatballs or pâté, or even tofu, as well as a variety of condiments including pickled carrots and daikon radish, cucumber, cilantro, fiery jalapenos, and a bit of mayo.  All of this is stuffed inside of a just baked baguette (if your Bahn Mi place is really good), crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.  Of course Bahn Mi is delicious any time of the year but for some reason, for me, the summertime tends to bring on strong cravings for these delicious sandwiches and I’ve found other Bahn Mi lovers have similar summer sandwich cravings.

I’m doing this recipe in 2 parts since it involves pickled vegetables, which takes a little forethought.  So for now I’m going to focus on the recipe for the pickled carrot and radish mixture (super simple) which you’ll let sit for a few days before making your Bahn Mi sandwich.  I’ll post Part 2 within the next couple of weeks, promise!

*Tip: the pickled carrot and radish mixture is addictive and does not have to be reserved for just Bahn Mi. Try it on a salad, a pulled pork sandwich, or any old sandwich you want to liven a bit.  It’s delicious!

Pickled Carrot and Radish (Do Chua)
1 pound carrots (approx. 2-3 medium sized carrots), outer layer peeled
1 pound daikon radishes (approx. 1 large daikon), outer layer peeled
1 ¼  cups distilled white vinegar
½ cup plus 4 teaspoons of sugar
1 cup very warm water 
1 teaspoon table salt
A large jar (one that seals well)

Julienne the carrots and the daikon radishes so you have matchstick size strips of each.  To do this you should trim off a layer on four sides so that you have a long rectangle to work with; from there you can cut lengthwise so you have long strips that are thin with regards to thickness but are wide across.  Stack the strips and cut them again lengthwise into matchstick size pieces. Put the carrots and radishes in a large bowl. Sprinkle the vegetables with 4 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of table salt. With your hands massage the sugar and salt into the carrots and daikon until well coated.  Continue to massage until they soften quite a bit.  It should take about 4-5 minutes. When you can gently bend a piece of radish all the way back without it breaking, you are good to go. Dump the carrots and radishes into a colander and rinse well with cold water. 

In a large measuring glass (mine is 4 cups) or medium sized bowl, mix together the remaining ½ cup of sugar, the white vinegar, and the warm water, until the sugar dissolves.  Wash the jar with warm and soapy water.  You don’t have to sterilize the jar since the vegetables aren't being cooked.  Put the radishes and carrots in the jar. Pour the vinegar and sugar mixture on top and seal (the liquid should cover the vegetables).  Refrigerate.  In a couple of days this mixture will be perfect for your homemade Bahn Mi sandwich.

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