Monday, August 1, 2011

Bánh Mì Sliders with Blueberry Chutney (Vietnamese Barbecue Pork Mini-Sandwiches)

I have been craving these spicy little sliders for the last several weeks and yesterday I couldn't stand it anymore and caved in and made them for dinner.  This is one of the most delicious things to come out of my kitchen in quite some time.  Bánh Mì are Vietnamese barbecued pork sandwiches.  They represent the classic fusion of southeast Asian and French cuisine (remember Viet Nam used to be part of the French colonial empire of Indochina until receiving independence in 1949).  You can taste the french influence in the pate and bread, and Asian influences in the spicy pickled vegetables and the fragrant barbecued pork.

Bánh Mì are classic Vietnamese street food.  There are probably as many different recipes for Bánh Mì as there are people who like to scarf them down. Traditionally they are served on a crispy french baguette that has been cut into 4-inch lengths, however I have "Americanized" them into slider form and like to serve them on soft potato dinner rolls.  The inclusion of pate is entirely up to you and I have listed it as otional since not everyone is a fan of pate, and these sliders are perfectly delicious without it.

The pickled carrots and radishes are absolutely essential to this dish because their tangy crunchiness is the perfect foil to the sweet velvety pork.  Even people who hate carrots and radishes love these vegetables and they couldn't be easier to prepare.

I also like to serve these with a schmear of Mama Ozzy's blueberry chutney which enhances the sweetness, fragrance and spiciness of the sandwich.  It is totally optional, but if you are trying to impress, make the chutney, you won't go wrong.

 Doug maniacally wolfing down a Bánh Mì slider

If you have a special guest coming to your home this summer and want to serve a really show-stopping meal without all the fuss, may I suggest the following menu?

Bánh Mì Sliders with Blueberry Chutney 
Cold and Spicy Thai Noodle Salad (See variations in Pot sticker Salad)
Dark and Stormy Cocktails (Black Bermuda Rum and Ginger Beer over ice with a wedge of lime)
Lemon Sorbet and fresh fruit

Bánh Mì Sliders with Blueberry Chutney  
makes about 12 sliders

1,  1.5 - 2 lb. pork tenderloin
3 Tbsp fish sauce (found in the asian foods aisle)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 walnut-sized piece of ginger, minced
1 scallion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Slice pork tenderloin into medallions about 1-inch thick.  Place 4 medallions in a large Ziploc bag, and with the bag unsealed, gently pound them to about 1/4 inch thick.  Repeat with remaining pork.
Gently pound the pork medallions flat in a plastic bag

In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients and stir until well mixed.  Pour marinade into plastic bag with pork, remove all the air and seal the bag.  Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to overnight (the longer these marinate, the more intense they will be flavored, but be careful not to go too long because the fish sauce is EXTREMELY salty... I find 3 hours is about perfect).

While the pork is marinating, make the pickled vegetables:

Pickled Vegetables:
1/2 lb peeled baby carrots
1/2 lb radishes (I prefer white Icicle [baby daikon] radishes, but any kind will work)
1 large chunk of peeled ginger
1/2 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp salt

Cut the carrots and radishes into matchstick sized pieces.  Cut the ginger into very thin slices.  In a medium saucepan combine water, vinegar, sugar and salt.  Bring just to a boil and remove from heat.  Add carrots, radishes and ginger to hot vinegar.  Cover and allow to cool for 30 minutes before  transferring to refrigerator to chill.  Drain immediately before serving.

When the pork is done marinating, preheat your grill or a large non-stick skillet to high.  Cook the pork until it is well browned and caramelized.

Assembling the Banh Mi Sliders
1 dozen 2-inch square potato rolls
lettuce leaves
pate de campagne (country-style pate) *optional
Sriracha hot sauce

Cut open a roll and spread both sides with a small amount of mayonnaise.  Place a slice of pate on the bottom half and spread with a small amount of blueberry chutney.  Top with a lettuce leaf, a slice of barbecued pork and pickled vegetables.  Season the top bun with Sriracha if desired.  Serve immediately.

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