banh mi, cravings, edible obsessions, kool-aid sandwiches, vietnamese sandwich

Edible Obsession: Homemade Banh Mi

The Missus has had her own ‘Edible Obsession,’ for the past month and a half.  A Banh Mi.  This all stemmed from her attending Chinese New Years with a friend and them visiting 163 Vietnamese Sandwiches and Bubble Tea in Boston. For $3, she said you had the most filling sandwich and I heard about it nearly every other day after.

Neither one of us has visited Kim’s on St. John Street and my only prior experience having a Banh Mi wasn’t the most pleasant one in the world. But, I guess that’s what I get for picking it up at a grocery store deli counter and not a place that would have some general sense of how to make one.

So, to ease the pangs and cravings that The Missus was having for one (seriously, you would have thought she was pregnant with a child that could only survive on these sandwiches), I decided to make one at home.

1 French baguette, twelve to eighteen inches long
1 pound thinly sliced pork chop, loin, or shoulder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons fish or oyster sauce
3 packets of raw sugar, about 2 tablespoons
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped ginger
3 jalapeños, sliced with seeds removed or not, depending on your heat tolerance
2 Gherkin cucumbers cut into thin planks
6 to 8 sprigs of cilantro
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons of liver pate
carrot and radish slaw (see recipe below)

In a large resealable bag, mix the garlic, fish sauce, sugar, pepper, onion, oils, ginger and 1 jalapeno.  Mix the ingredients until they are well blended and then add the pork. Marinade the pork in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Place a cast iron skillet over high heat until water sprinkled on the skillet quickly evaporates. Add the pork slices, cooking one side at a time until both sides are brown and the meat is completely cooked through. Alternatively, “scramble” the meat by cutting it into smaller pieces with a metal spatula and fork while the meat is cooking. After the meat has cooked, remove the chunks of ginger and jalapeño.
Slice one side of the baguette making a pocket to hold the meat and the toppings.  Open the baguette and spread the mayonnaise on the top half. Spread the pate on the bottom half
Top with the cucumber planks and then the pork.  Add jalapeño slices, cilantro, and carrot-radish slaw.
Carrot and Radish Slaw, makes 2 cups
1 cup daikon radish, shredded
1 cup carrots, shredded
1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Combine the ingredients and refrigerate.

I have to say, my only critique of this sandwich is the daikon in the slaw.  It threw way too much water and didn’t add anything at all to the sandwich. Next time I make this, and there will definitely be a next time, I’d skip the daikon and just have it with shredded carrots. Perhaps I’d also use a crunchier baguette, probably one from Standard Baking.  I also deviated from the recipe a bit and added a good schmear of Le Trois Petits Cochons Duck Liver Mousse with Port Wine. The overall flavors of the sandwich were bright and summery, which makes it perfect for fighting off those midwinter doldrums.

chocolate brownies, condiments, cravings, eating too much, eating until your belly hurts, edible obsession, Local foods, mid afternoon snacks, pairings, WTF

Shelf Analysis

‘Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are..”–Jean Anthelme Brilliat-Savarian

Some people get a kick out of going through other people’s medicine cabinents to see what secrets their friends and neighbors are hiding–and lets face it a good number of our friends and family are on some pretty fucking interesting medications. But, that just may be me projecting(Busy Brain is as interesting as I get these days). My little fetish is that I’ll snoop your fridge for an insight in who you are. With all of us either labeled, or self proclaimed as, ‘Foodies,” your refrigerator holds your modern shame. If I had taken this photo one hour later, you would have seen three cans of Pepsi Throwback on the top shelf. If I had photographed the vegetable crisper you would have seen a noticible lack of vegetables and and abundance of cheese: Petit Agour, Dubliner with Stout, Dubliner Cheddar, 8 year Gouda and VBC’s Herbed Chevre.

Some of our predilections are obvious and well established, like the ones in my family. I have a feeling if I were to walk right now into my mothers house and open her freezer, there would be 5 gallons of ice cream, frozen dinners and frozen meat. My sister, Rachael, would have left over pasta and meat balls and lots of milk for my three nephews and brother in law. There would be something in there made out of one of her cuilinary school books. I’m guessing there would be remnants of a cake.

This is a look inside of my refrigerator, something very few have actually seen the inside of–the most notable person being a vegetarian coworker I traumatized by showing off my pickled tongue to. I think my food experiments freak a few of my friends out. Hmm… that explains so much..

  1. Butter: Lots of it. This was actually bought to make brownies and polenta with. I ended up not even needing either pound.
  2. Cream Cheese: Plain. We rarely have bagels in the house and this was brought in to make a peanut butter cream for the middle of #7 in the next picture.
  3. Cat stuff. You know ‘Ashy Larry’ from The Chappelle Show? Our cat, Sophie, is a bit like that, minus the crack problem(she opts for catnip, bud and lemon grass). This is cost $10 and was suppose to help and she refuses to consume it willingly.
  4. Pickled Jalapeno’s. I’m actually not sure when I jarred these and, now that I look at the picture, am a wee bit afraid to open it. I think it will remain one of those fermenting things in the fridge that just gets moved around and never opened.
  5. White Truffle Oil. Fancy, I know. It’s only use has been for risotto. It expired last month.
  6. Hakushika Snow Beauty Sake. I’d like to say what I purchased this for but I can’t remember. It may have been after a trip to Pai Men. It may have been because I thought the bottle was pretty. It may have been because I thought I would actually drink it. I obviously haven’t.
  7. Cholula Hot Sauce. One of 5 hot sauces in the refrigerator at the moment. This is their chili garlic flavor and my favorite topping for scrambled eggs on a day off.
  8. Three Wishes Cabernet. Whole Foods answer to ‘2 buck Chuck.’ It cost $2.50 and was purely purchased as a cooking wine. It’s probably vinegar by now.
  9. Sriracha. Purchased to help recreate the Pai Men Pork buns we had for Thanksgiving dinner.
  10. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar. Like many things purchased at TJ’s, this was bought out of pure curiosity over functionality or use in my kitchen. And, like so many other TJ’s branded things it wasn’t that fantastic. I believe this was used for a marinade. The only thing I buy from TJ’s these days is coffee.

  1. Polenta setting overnight to make ‘Crispy Polenta Fries‘ from Find.Eat.Drink. For us, the recipe should have been cut in half, or even 2/3’s, as it made a good 2-3 dozen thick cut fries.
  2. “If you’re afraid of butter, just use cream”–Julia Child. I’m afraid of neither and often have both in the house. This was used to make the ganache for #7.
  3. Morimoto Soba Ale. I brought this into the house sometime over the past year because of a reading a while back that Joe @ PFC recommended it highly. Because I don’t drink beer I rely on others to turn me on to brews to bring home to the Missus. This was one of them and it’s been there for over 6 months. If it’s salvageable, it will be used to make tempura.
  4. Cranky Rooster Eggs from my Cape SoPo Winter Share. Since posting about it two months ago there has hardly been a day where these eggs have not been in my kitchen. Truth be told, my last pick up from the Winter Share had three dozen eggs in it. Three dozen for two people. The yolks, as orange, tall and firm as ever, have made me catch my breath more than once at the sight of how just exactly perfect they are. I probably shouldn’t have said all of this because now you’re going to scoop them up before I’ve placed my order. Jerks.
  5. The required slab of bacon. Uncured, smoked thick cut from Whole Foods 365 line. It was the least expensive bacon in the cooler and far from the best. Too thin(even though it clearly said ‘thick cut’) of a strip made for an easily overcooked, dry piece of bacon. Thankfully it was easily saved on a breakfast sandwich made with the above mentioned eggs.
  6. Beef Shank. I was going to braise it and went for short ribs instead. It’s now living in the freezer.
  7. Peanut Butter Truffle Brownies I dropped the ball on photographing these before they were devoured to the point of pain and then given to my co-workers to get them out of our sights. They were heaven. I added a bit of Mascarpone to the peanut butter mix and substituted some all-natural Nutella knockoff for the peanut butter in the ganache. This was at their final chilling stage.
  8. Castelvetrano Olives. The ‘Kermit’ Olive. So bright green that it turns people off. It seems unnatural but they are one of my absolute favorite olives and worthy of their own ‘Edible Obsession’ themed post. Think less briny and more sweet; A black olive in green clothing with more tanginess than meatiness to it’s flesh. Primary use: sliced and added to a four cheese quesadilla.
  9. Bay Leaves. All of my days off are spent cooking long projects, like braises, and it also includes stock making, whether beef, chicken or vegetable. So, naturally, I use a lot of bay leaves.
  10. Hellman’s Mayonnaise. There are three major things I just can’t make the ‘all natural’ switch to: Ketchup, Peanut Butter and Mayonnaise. I don’t care how bad it is, I refuse to part with it. From creaming up some deviled eggs(do you sense an addiction being confessed before your eyes??), slathering on a sandwich or going Dutch and having some with french fries, I refuse to compromise on mayonnaise. Not only is it a dressing in so many childhood linked food memories(like Grandma’s Potato Salad, Mom’s Deviled Eggs) but it just has a better flavor to me.
bad for you food, cravings, munchies, twinkies

Giving In

I did the other night. Sunday, to be exact. I’ll preface this all by saying that the Missus and I eat pretty well, not healthy but better than we did when we first met each other. Which is, honestly, to say that we eat less highly processed prepackaged crap. We still eat a lot of junk food–pizza is the essential go to when I’m too tired to cook–but at least we try to minimize how horrific the ingredient list is. Though I am saying this while a 40oz bag of Halloween candy sits on our living room table.
With that, I bring you back to the other night and a craving so bad I woke the next morning, still jonesing for it. Not unusual for me, really, except that this craving was for a Little Debbie Swiss Cake Roll.

Fine, not really unusual for a person with my smoking hobby. But, to be honest, I haven’t had one in over a decade but there I was sitting on the couch–in a smokey state–trying to convince the Missus to run down to Irving to buy me one. Yet, with all of my pestering and attempts at cuteness, I was left with none.

The next day, sober and still craving one, I found myself shopping the dubious ‘food’ aisle at Rite Aid and purchased what I assumed was the Hostess version of it, ‘Funny Bones.’ Apparently, I wasn’t smart enough to read the label because ‘Funny Bones’ bare absolutely no resemblance to Little Debbie or her Swiss Cake Rolls–I should have been looking for ‘Ho-Ho’s’ I was later told. I also thought, at the time, that it would be fun to just go for broke and make this an all out tasting of childhood junk food so I picked up some creme filled cupcakes and a pack of Twinkies.

And, man, did I think I was a fucking genius. I did. So much so, that I got giddy about it and started texting the Missus about my Little Debbie craving victory. But, sadly, the victory was short lived when the tasting finally started and reality set in.

Let’s start with the worst of the bunch:

With the cupcake mania finally behind us I think it’s nice to revisit originals and that little curly q icing on top of the chocolate frosting screams original childhood treat for me. But, I’m not the eight year old I was when these were packed into my He-Man lunch box.

The tag line for this treat is, “You get a big delight in every bite.” Sure, you do. You also get a mouth full of partially hydrogenated vegetable and/or animal shortening and lots of high fructose corn syrup. That would be your addictive cream filled center that hooked us as children. As an adult, I can only compare the mouth feel of it–and that of all three snacks–to lube. The ‘cake’ itself, for all of the added ingredients to make it moist, tasted like week old cake at best and the chocolate frosting resembled nothing I know of chocolate.

But, thankfully, it wasn’t all that bad. Next there was a pack of:

There’s a scene in “No Reservations: Cleveland” where Anthony Bourdain, Harvey Peckar and Michael Ruhlman visit the world’s largest bookstore, Zubal Books, which happens to be an abandoned Twinkie factory. They open up one of the pipes in the store, still full of an unknown vintage of corn syrup, so a few of them could sample the liquid. Bourdain declares: “It’s Twinkielicious,” and although it’s been nearly two decades since I’ve had one, I know exactly what he means. There is something about the cloyingly sweet center, one that was more forgiving than that of the cupcakes, that one only relates to eating a Twinkie.

For me, this was probably the one that I wanted to be better tasting than I knew it would be. Thankfully, it was finished in a few bites because after the first, just like the cupcakes, my mouth was instantly coated in sugary film.

The most palatable was the mistake of the group:

The Missus and I part ways on our opinion of this snack. While she thought it was the worst of the three I thought there was more moisture to the cake and less of that lube feel to the filling. Perhaps it was because it had been cut with actual peanuts somewhere in it’s making and not some artificial peanut flavor, but whatever the reason, it wasn’t too bad. The chocolate coating, again, was a bit of a disappointment and was the driest aspect of the snack. It was actually so dry that the coating started to flake off as I cut into to put it onto plates.

We each have that point in our lives when we realize we’ve gotten older. We wake up one morning to find new wrinkles, shiny gray hairs and aches in our bones we were unaware of just the day before. I had one of those moments when we were done forcing down our snacks. And, honestly, it made me a little sad to be a grown up.