I'm going to step outside of my usual gluten free/vegetarian/health food posts for a moment and celebrate my (and undoubtedly most of the world's) favorite sandwich, the Banh Mi. 

For those who are not familiar, the sandwich is a French-Vietnamese fusion born during the French colonization of Vietnam. There are numerous variations, though it always begins with a crisp baguette that is commonly filled with BBQ pork, pickled carrots, cucumbers, cilantro, jalapeno, and the occasional spread of pâté. The dining experience is not to be completed without sriracha ceremoniously oozing onto the corners of your mouth.

The term banh mi actually translates to bread or baguette in Vietnamese. I learned this the hard way in Vietnam when attempting to order one. In the Western world, we've come to know this as the Vietnamese sandwich in general, however when ordering it's necessary to specify which sandwich you prefer. This version would be called banh mi thit nuong. 

Usually made with grilled pork, my rendition uses thin slices of pork tenderloin that are seared in a cast iron skillet. A quick marinade of fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, ginger, and scallion provide flavor, while the vegetable garnishes bring freshness and texture. The bread I have pictured above is not the traditional. The roll I used was still good (and just a test that did not pass), though incomparable to the light, extra crunchy texture of the French baguette that is crucial to the sandwich's success.

My visit to Vietnam was only a quick trip to the country's capitol, Hanoi, however I really developed a great fondness for the culture during my short time and have every intention of going back and visiting the South.

(makes two sandwiches)

1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin

2 tbs fish sauce
2 tbs soy sauce
juice from 1 lime
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs freshly grated ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbs fresh scallions

Pickled Carrots-
2 carrots
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt

2 French baguettes
1 tbs butter
1 cucumber
1 jalapeno
1 radish
fresh cilantro

Slice the pork tenderloin into very thin slices. Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade, add the pork and allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

While the pork is marinating, prep the carrots. Slice into thin strips, or a julienne. Add both vinegars and salt. Stir and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. 

Prep the rest of the garnishes. Slice the cucumber, radish, and jalapeno thinly. 

Heat a cast iron skillet to very high heat. Add about 1 tbs of oil.  Cook 2 to 3 pieces of pork at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Allow to get a good sear and brown well before turning, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Continue with the rest of the pork. 

Open the baguettes 3/4 of the way. Add some butter to a nonstick pan and toast the baguette until nicely browned. Spread with mayonnaise and add a few pieces of the pork, slices of cucumber, radish, jalapeno, the pickled carrots, and cilantro. Serve with sriracha on the side.

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