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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Banh Mi (Vietnamese Meatball Sandwiches)

YUUUUUM. One of the best things about traveling is street food. While a lot of the places I go for work aren't exactly culinary paradises, from time to time I hit the jackpot. And southeast Asia has the best street food and some of the best food in the world...haven't you noticed a bit of a pattern in the recipes post on this blog? Banh mi is a delicious marriage of Vietnam and France. They're a wonderful use of ground pork (cheap eats), they're flavorful, addictive and if you can find yourself a really good loaf of crusty French bread (not the supermarket stuff) then this becomes one of the best meals on earth...

Not only are these meatballs great in a sandwich, but they're really good with some chicken broth, ginger and some noodles in a soup. I like to make a double batch, freeze extras and use the rest for dumplings.

Meatballs:
1 lb ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped basil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions finely chopped
1 TB fish sauce
1 TB sugar
2 tsp cornstarch
salt and pepper
Dark sesame oil

Fixins:
2/3 cup mayo
1 TB chili garlic sauce or another hot sauce
1/3 cucumber, thinly sliced in long strips
Bunch of cilantro
1 large carrot, peeled in ribbons
2 TB sugar
2 TB rice vinegar
Lettuce

1. Start with the fixins, the pickled veggies to go on top. I cheat here and make my own version to soak as I make the meatballs. Combine the sugar and rice vinegar until dissolved. Add a TB of water. Throw in the carrots and mix well. Mix every few minutes as you work on the meatballs.

2. Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well with your hands.

3. Form them into balls - not too big, slightly smaller than a golf ball. They'll be a bit gooey. Put them on a foil lined baking sheet as you go.

4. Heat about 2 TB of sesame oil in a large frying pan. Once it's nice and hot, put your meatballs in and fry away. Turn them every 30 seconds or so to get them nice and brown and caramelized.

5. Do them in batches if you need to. Put them on a plate with paper towels as you go to get rid of the excess oil.

6. Slice your baguette in half. Combine the mayo and chili sauce and put a good coat on both sides of the sandwich.

7. Lay a piece of lettuce. Then a bunch of the pickled carrots. Then some cucumber. Add a few sprigs of cilantro. Then put one layer of meatballs - usually about 3 fit on a good sized sandwich (depending on how hungry you are!!)

You'll never know how you lived without these!!!



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