I love banh mi – it’s food from my heritage and I wanted to put it on the menu. We decided to make Ms G’s banh mi smaller so that diners could fit in other dishes as well. In my eyes, banh mi is up there with the most iconic sandwiches of the world. It’s the perfect balance of richness, acidity, texture, freshness and spice. In short, everything you could ever want in a sandwich.
- 6 litres (210 fl oz/24 cups) Chinese masterstock
- 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) pork belly, rib bones removed, skin on
- 1 loaf of chà lua (Vietnamese pork loaf)
- vegetable oil, for frying
- 8 small, soft white rolls pork liver pâté (see below)
- 6 salted cucumbers (see below)
- pickled daikon and carrot (see below)
- 1 bunch coriander (cilantro), leaves only
- Sriracha mayonnaise (see below)
Pork liver pâté
- 800 g (1 lb 12 oz) pork livers, soaked in milk overnight
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 125 ml (4 fl oz/¼ cup) Shaoxing wine
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) butter, chilled, chopped into small cubes
- fish sauce, to taste
- ground white pepper, to taste
- 4 Lebanese cucumbers
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 litre (35 fl oz/4 cups) white vinegar
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) caster (superfine) sugar
- 1¼ tbsp salt
- 375 g (13 oz) Japanese mayonnaise
- 65 g (2¼ oz) Sriracha sauce
- 1 tbsp Knorr Liquid Seasoning
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
The Chinese masterstock will take 2½ hours to cook and prepare
Pork marinating time overnight
Salted cucumber standing time 2 hours
Pickling time 3 days
Pour the masterstock into a stockpot and carefully add the pork belly. Bring to the boil. As soon as it’s reached boiling point, turn the heat down and simmer for 3–4 hours or until the pork belly is tender.
Line a roasting tin (large enough to fit the pork belly) with baking paper. Carefully lift the pork belly from the stock, being mindful to keep everything in one piece (not easy to do, since the pork is very soft at this point).
Put the pork in the tin, skin side down. Cover with another piece of baking paper then a baking tray. Weight the tray with heavy objects such as tins of tomatoes then leave it overnight (unrefrigerated) to press the pork belly.
Using a meat slicer or a very sharp knife, slice the chà lua as thinly as possible. Set aside. Cut the pork belly into pieces about 1.5 cm (5⁄8 inch) thick and about the same length as the rolls.
Fill a large heavy-based saucepan one-third full with oil and heat to 170°C (325°F) or until a cube of bread dropped into the oil turns golden in 20 seconds. Carefully drop in the pork belly pieces and fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
Cut the white rolls in half. Spread the bases generously with pork liver pâté. Top with a few slices of chà lua, then add the fried pork, followed in order by the salted cucumbers, pickled daikons and carrots, a few coriander leaves, and, finally, a generous dollop of Sriracha mayonnaise.
Drain and wash the pork livers thoroughly under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Carefully trim away any veins, then dice into 2 cm (¾ inch) chunks.
In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil over a medium–high heat. Add the liver in batches, making sure you don’t crowd the pan. Do not stir! After 1 minute or so add the garlic. At this stage, the liver should be partially cooked, but not completely.
Deglaze the pan with the Shaoxing wine then cook out the alcohol, which should take about 3 minutes. Quickly transfer the livers to a food processor and add the butter cubes. Blitz until smooth. Season with fish sauce and white pepper to taste. Spoon the pâté into an airtight container and smooth a piece of baking paper or plastic wrap on the surface. Put in the fridge and when it is cool enough, place the lid on the container and keep refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.
Using a Japanese mandolin, slice the cucumbers into 2 mm (1⁄16 inch) rounds. Put in a bowl and add the salt. Use your hands to thoroughly massage the salt into the slices. Set aside for 2 hours. When done, the cucumber slices will look limp and a lot of water will have leached out. Wash them under cold running water for a few minutes, or until they no longer taste excessively salty. Squeeze out any excess water and lay the slices out to dry on paper towels. Store in an airtight container in the fridge – they should last up to 2 days.
Whisk all the ingredients together with 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) water in a large bowl until the sugar and salt have completely dissolved. It will keep indefinitely.
Perfect for all kinds of vegetables, including daikon radishes, carrots and cucumbers. Simply peel the vegetable you choose and slice into batons. Put in a jar and cover with the liquid. Leave for at least a few days before using.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, whisking until incorporated. Store in a squeezie bottle in the fridge. Keeps for a long time.
Recipe and image from Mr Hong by Dan Hong (Murdoch Books) $49.99 available now.