My new favorite sandwich. I always thought an American sandwich would be my favorite, something simple with bacon, chicken, mayo, lettuce tomato, you know that kind of deliciousness, but no, I was wrong, the Vietnamese Banh Mi takes the reign. It has the perfect balance of flavors, textures and of course taste. Before I stopped spending money on food I would sometimes go to this place by my apartment that had these great vietnamese sandwiches for only $5. The sandwich is comprised of some sort of meat, usually pork or chicken, a fresh and crunchy baguette, cilantro, sriracha, jalapenos, pickled carrots, cucumbers and mayonnaise. The flavor combination is unexpected but makes for a mouthwatering and addicting experience.
Since I had leftover ingredients from the Pho that I made on friday, on saturday I decided to spend the day working on music and making baguettes for my first attempt at Banh Mi. Things were going quite well until I had to try out a new step for making bread. When making a baguette you have to have a pan with water boiling in it so when you bake the bread there is enough moisture in the oven to keep it from drying out. After roasting a sauce pan in the oven at 450ºF for about 20 minutes I realized that I needed to use a bigger pan so I took out the sauce pan and inserted a roasting pan in the oven. About 3o seconds later I forgot the sauce pan had been in the oven and I grabbed it by the handle… Fuck. I blacked out for half of a second while my hand stuck to the burning hot handle of the pan. After that I proceeded to jump up and down screaming and thinking about how much of an idiot I was. Damn, that was about the worst burn I have ever received.
The rest of the night I was forced to keep my hand in a bowl of cold water because every time that I took it out it felt as though I had rubbed habaneros all over my hands. None the less it was not easy to finish making the sandwich but I pushed through. Since this is a food blog I wont gross you out and show you a picture of my hand, instead i’ll show you what I was forced to hold on to for a good portion of the night until I drank it and its cooling powers went away.
As much as it may seem that getting burnt as bad as I did was a bad thing, I was actually quite happy about the whole situation. I can’t sit here and say that I was not in immense pain, for it burned like hell, but pain is a funny thing and I haven’t felt that kind of pain in a while. It gave me a chance to really think about what pain was and why it is such a big deal. It also was a relief that I burned my hand on a night when I did not have anything major going on. I had to postpone the guitar playing for a night but what if I had had a big catering gig or even more important a concert that night? I would have been screwed. So I can only look at this situation as a pleasant one, glad that it came on a free night when I could nurse my hand without any repercussions. I think I am a miracle healer though because the following day I was playing guitar at band practice and barely felt any pain. This was a bad burn that took up most of my hand and blistered quite nicely so I must have done something right in my journey to conquer pain and suffering. Or something like that.
Anyhow I didn’t cry from the burn but I almost shed a tear when I took my first bite of the homemade Banh Mi sandwich I had constructed. Between making the bread, pickling the carrots, jalapenos, and cucumbers, and everything in between, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to cap off one hell of a day.
Here is a quick pickle recipe that anyone can easily do at home with a few simple ingredients. Try using this on just about anything, it makes for the perfect condiment.
Quick Pickle Recipe
1. Peel the skin off of the cucumber and then using the peeler, peel the rest of the cucumber down to the seeds. Put the slices in a colander or mesh strainer over a bowl, toss them with the salt, and let stand for about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, combine the water, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, and allspice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool.
3. Rinse the salt off the cucumbers and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Put the cucumbers in a medium bowl and add the pickling solution; they should be completely covered by the brine. Cover and refrigerate for 3 to 6 hours before serving.
This makes for a delicious snack and a great topping on sandwiches. It is not quite as strong as relish or a pickle but I think that the sweetness and the vinegar actually make a better topping then the two previously noted. You can also pickle other vegetables like carrots and jalapenos with this same method, I would suggest keeping vegetables that are not as moist as cucumbers in the salt for longer to help drain out the moisture and soaking them in the liquid for an extended period of time. Also, if there is extra pickling liquid you can toss whatever other vegetables you would like in there instead of letting it go to waste.