Banh Mi (Vietnamese/French Sandwich)


There’s just something about the marriage of two great cuisines that makes for great food and I think that Banh Mi Sandwiches are one of the finest examples.  I had the good fortune to live in Los Angeles during the time when Wolfgang Puck and California Pizza Kitchen were making wild pizzas and Puck opened a marvelous fusion restaurant named Chinois on Main where the mini crème brûlèes served on the lazy susan were flavored with  all sorts of Asian flavors and were small enough that you could try them all.  Ever since that time I’ve been a fan of exploring the possibilities of taking the best ingredients and techniques of cuisines that seem worlds apart but when brought together make  unique and amazing new dishes.

I can’t recall exactly when I had my first Banh Mi Sandwich but I was obviously hopelessly hooked on them because if a sandwich shop or kiosk has them on the menu  I’m in!  BTW this  also goes for crab cakes, moules frites, sweetbreads (not the pastry) and phad thai!

So what is this sandwich I’m raving about?   It starts with some bread that is crispy on the exterior with a open texture on the interior, a luscious protein or two, some spicy mayo, some quick pickled veggies, a bit of thinly sliced spicy pepper and if you want some lettuce and tomato.  The possibilities are endless.  I’ve had them with chicken, spicy meatballs and grilled beef and can even imagine them with tofu and avocado.  The only thing I would insist on is that there is some fish sauce in the quick pickle brine.  The umami ness it brings is what pulls all the flavors together to make the unique flavor of Bahn Mi

So let’s start with the quick pickle.  Like I said the essential ingredient is fish sauce, then you need a bit of sweet (I like light brown sugar), some acid (unseasoned rice vinegar and/ or lime juice) and a bit of soy sauce for salt and flavor.  Next comes something to pickle.  When I get daikon in my CSA bag I know there is a Banh Mi sandwich in my future.  If you’re not familiar with daikon, it’s that long white root on the right in the photo below.  It has a mild radish flavor and is great eaten raw or roasted.  The round root  vegetable with the bright pink interior next to it is a watermelon radish which is also in the daikon family.  They both add great flavor and texture to the pickle.  Carrot and sweet onion round out the pickle ingredients today, but feel free to experiment!


Sometimes I grate the veggies on a box grater or in my food processor but I’ve decided that I actually prefer to making shavings with my trusty “y” peeler for the carrot and white daikon and to cut ” julienne” pieces of the watermelon radish and onion with my chef’s knife 

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Stir the veggies into the brine and set it aside while you go to work on the rest of the sandwich.

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So what’s a sandwich without a little mayo.  For a Bahn Mi the mayo should be a bit spicy.  I’ll give you ratios but remember that this is your sandwich, so make it as mild or spicy as you like.  Today I’m using a combo of Sambal Oelek and Sriracha but  feel free to use whatever hot sauce you may have in your refrigerator (yes good old Tabasco or Franks would work and next time I’m thinking of trying the gochujang I just acquired)


Now for the meat of the matter.  I’ve been dreaming of this sandwich for a while, so I had the liverwurst on hand.  For me this is where the marriage of French and Vietnamese flavors shine.  The richness of the “pâté” against the sweet vinegary bite of the pickle and the crusty bread is a food marriage made in heaven.   The roast pork (more on this later) brings more substance and flavor to each bite.

If you’re not a pork person some chopped chicken liver with some roasted or grilled  chicken would be awesome and I’m thinking that for my vegetarian friends, some mashed avocado and some sauteéd tofu or grilled tuna could be mighty fine as well.  


The pork loin I’m using is leftover from the roasted bone-in pork loin with roasted winter vegetables I made this weekend.   It is a seriously (pun intended) a great recipe, starting with excellent pork from BluesCreek Farms and a reverse sear method of cooking.

Now we’re almost ready to build this sandwich.   Today I’m also switching out the customary  baguette for a different style sandwich bread that I’ve recently discovered.  It’s a Torta sandwich roll from La Brea Bakery in LA and sold at Costco.   So, in comes bread from yet another culture.  I’ve also seen it in store bakeries labeled bolillo.   It works well for this sandwich because like its French cousin, it has a crispy exterior and a soft interior for soaking up all the juices and flavors in the sandwich.   A ciabatta would work beautifully also.    In addition to the pickled veggies in the sandwich I’m going to include some slices of tomato, romaine lettuce leaves, thinly sliced jalapeno and cilantro sprigs. 

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Start by spreading a thin layer of the liver sausage on the bottom slice of toasted roll, add a couple of thin slices of roast pork.


Top with some of the pickled veggies, thinly sliced jalapeno, cilantro, tomato and lettuce.  Spread the top half of the roll with the spicy mayo and press down firmly!

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You can eat it as is, but I prefer to wrap it tightly in foil and heat in a 350° F oven for 10 minutes or so until it’s heated through.

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Now all you need is a cold one and then a nap!  I like to serve it with some of the pickled veggies on the side and of course it tastes so much better if it’s served on a hand-crafted cutting board (thank you Katy).


Chúc ngon miêng & Bon Appétit 


Pork Banh Mi

by: M.B. Einerson

Adapted from Bon Appétit January 2010 – Pork Meatball Banh Mi, Cooking Club April/ May 2011–Warm Vietnamese Pork Sandwiches and Gourmet February 2008 Vietnamese Chicken Sandwich (Banh Mi)

Servings: 4 hearty sandwiches

  • ¼ cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • ½ tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 1 ½ cups coarsely grated daikon
  • ½ to 1 cup julienned watermelon radish (optional but pretty)
  • ½ large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • Baguette cut into 4 pieces and split lengthwise or 4 Torta or Ciabatta rolls split and toasted
  • 8 to 12 thin slices cook pork loin/tenderloin
  • ⅛ to ¼ lb. liverwurst or liver pâté
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 to 3 tsp. hot chili garlic sauce (sriracha, sambal oelek etc.)
  • 1 to 2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Romaine lettuce leaves
  • Tomato slices

Whisk rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce in a medium bowl.  Add grated carrots, daikon, radish and onion.  Mix well and set aside.

Combine mayonnaise and hot chili garlic sauce.

Spread the bottom of each sandwich with a thin layer of the liverwurst.  Top with pork, some of the carrot/radish/onion mixture (save additional for serving alongside the sandwich), jalapeno, cilantro sprigs, lettuce leaves and tomato slices.  Spread the top of each sandwich with some of the mayonnaise/hot sauce mixture.  If desired, wrap tightly in aluminum foil and heat in 350°F oven until warmed through.

Chúc ngon miêng & Bon Appétit



Best Barbecued Ribs


Soon recipes revolving around my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share will likely dominate this site for the remainder of the summer, but before that happens I’ll share one more recipe for the carnivores in my life-Best Barbecued Ribs.

When I first started dating my husband he owned two cookbooks The Joy of Cooking and Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Two-Menus and Recipes for Every Occasion.  Not bad for a guy in the early 80’s.   Maybe this is what let me know that like this recipe he was a keeper!   In any case the recipe  for Best Barbecued Ribs from the section in the Better Homes and Gardens volume titled Remembered Recipes has been in our repertoire for years.  I pre-cook the ribs and make the sauce and he does the grilling.   In my opinion they have just the right blend of tart, sweet and spiciness to make them literally finger licking good.  The only thing I’ve done over the years is to add a touch of chipotle in adobo to kick them up just a bit.  Soon, I may start adding a bit of smoked salt to the brine or the sauce or directly on the ribs before grilling to make up for the fact I’m cooking on a gas grill.

I was so pleased to see that in the May 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated the method of preparing the ribs by pre-cooking them in a simmering brine was validated.  I’ve tried a few other methods over the years when  pre-cooking in brine was maligned for reducing the meaty flavor but I always ended up with tough, dry ribs.   As indicated by Cook’s and evidently known by Better Homes and Gardens cooks in 1968, gently simmering the ribs in a brine allows the collagen in the ribs to break down and results in tender, flavorful ribs that only need another few minutes on the grill to give them a bit of a char and some caramelization to the sauce.  Okay, so the cook times in the original Better Homes and Gardens recipe were a bit longer, but that was in the era when we still worried about trichinosis!

For those of you who are big city dwellers with no grill, have no fear!  My mother makes this recipe often using the baking method and loves them-it’s all about the sauce.

It starts with some nice meaty ribs and a few ingredients that are most likely in your pantry.  The Chili Sauce is usually the only ingredient that I have to buy.


Cut the ribs into pieces that will easily fit in a large stock pot or Dutch oven.  Simmer in salted water until tender.  The amount of time will vary depending on the type of ribs you have chosen.


While the ribs are simmering make the sauce.  Note that the onion should be a fine dice and remember to remove all of the seeds from the lemon slices. 

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All of the ingredients go into the sauce pan together.


An easy trick to getting all of the chili sauce out of the bottle is to rinse with the Worcestershire sauce.

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Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 to 10 minutes


After the sauce is done.  Remove the lemon slices-this is especially important if you are making the sauce ahead and refrigerating.  Once I left them in and the sauce became quite bitter.  Don’t toss them though, they still have a role to play.


Pre-heat your grill to medium-high and put the ribs on with the bony side up.  Top with the reserved lemon slices-they have a lot of good sauce on them and this is the best way to use it.


Grill for approximately 4 to 5 minutes on this side with the lid down to give the meaty side a nice crust.


Remove the lemon slices, flip the ribs and brush liberally with sauce. And grill with the lid down for another 4 to 5 minutes or until the ribs are hot and the sauce is slightly caramelized.


Transfer to a cutting board and cut between the ribs into serving pieces-be sure to have plenty of napkins on hand.  Serve with the extra sauce on the side-my husband says it’s so good you could drink it.


My favorite sides -Aunt Mary’s (Grandma Alice’s) Potato Salad or Cole slaw and of course a glass of red wine!




Best Barbecued Ribs

by: M.B. Einerson

Barely adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Two

1968 First Edition Sixth Printing 1972 

I don’t believe we ever made the two serving version of this recipe, the leftovers are nearly as good as fresh.  In the early days we doubled the original sauce recipe to make one rack of ribs (usually between 3 and 4 lbs) which is enough to feed 4 people easily.  In later years I scaled it up to use exactly one 12 oz. bottle of chili sauce. Any leftover sauce can be frozen for the next round of ribs.  If you want to make a smaller batch you will find my 2x of the original recipe below.  This will be enough for one rack of ribs with some extra sauce for serving at the table.

Servings: 4 with extra sauce for the freezer

  • 2 to 4 lb. ribs – We’ve done spareribs, baby back ribs and Kansas City style ribs-baby backs and Kansas City style are my favorite.
  • 2 cups catsup
  • 1 cup chili sauce (one 12 oz. bottle)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • ⅓ cup prepared mustard
  • ½ cup butter
  • 8 tsp. Worcestershire sauce ( 2 Tbs. + 2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp. garlic salt, ¼ tsp. garlic powder or 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • 16 thin lemon slices ( two lemons)- don’t forget to remove all the seeds
  • Chipotle in adobo sauce to taste

Cut ribs into pieces that will fit easily in a large stock pot or Dutch oven.  Simmer in salted water (approx. 1 tsp. of Kosher salt per quart of water is fine) until tender.  This will take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes for baby back ribs to 30 to 45 minutes for spareribs.  This can be done a day ahead.  Remove from water and go directly to the grill or oven* (I’ve personally never baked them, but someday I’ll give it a try) or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

In a medium size saucepan add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.   Remove from heat and remove lemon slices.  Reserve the lemon slices for use during grilling.

Grill hot ribs over medium to low heat until browned on both sides (for us this is usually 4 minutes per side –but it will depend on your grill, the outside temp. etc.).  Brush with sauce during the last few minutes of grilling-otherwise the sauce will burn.

* Place hot ribs in a shallow roasting pan and cover with sauce.  Bake in 350° oven for 20 to 25 minutes, basting with sauce occasionally.  If ribs have been refrigerated, allow them to come to room temperature before baking.


Best Barbecued Rib Sauce- Small Batch

by: M.B. Einerson

Barely adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cooking for Two

1968 First Edition Sixth Printing 1972 

  • 1/2 cup catsup
  • ¼ cup chili sauce
  • 2 Tbs. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs.finely diced onion
  • 4 tsp. prepared mustard
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ garlic salt,  116 tsp. garlic powder or 1 small clove minced fresh garlic
  • 4 thin lemon slices- don’t forget to remove all the seeds
  • Chipotle in adobo sauce to taste 

In a small saucepan add all remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.   Remove from heat and remove lemon slices.  Reserve the lemon slices for use during grilling.