Sunday, March 29, 2015
I've never had the opportunity to eat food from a food truck, but I'm just dying to try it. My husband and I love to watch shows about food trucks and have even tossed around ideas for our own food truck just for fun. We thought we'd call our truck Blondie's Tacos. We imagined an exaggerated blonde character painted on the truck. And, since we love Tex-Mex food so much, tacos are an obvious choice. I'd have carnitas and carne asada and fajita tacos as well as breakfast tacos. I think it would be so much fun! But that probably will never happen, so it's back to reality we go.
Have you ever watched The Great Food Truck Race on Food Network? If you haven't, it's a competition where contestants drive food truks around the country and compete in challenges to earn their own food truck. It's a great show. The city we live in has only recently passed a law to allow food trucks, but there hasn't been a big boom of people starting them up yet.
From watching those shows, we've learned that a lot of them are Bahn Mi trucks (pronounced "bawn me"). A Bahn Mi is a type of Vietnamese sandwich that typically has some type of meat, a pickled mixture of carrots, onions, and radishes, mayo, and garnished with cilantro and jalapenos. The meat varies from pork meatballs, shredded pork, or even chicken or cold cuts. I'm sure a lot of them are authentic, but I'm willing to bet that they are largely Americanized.
So, for my Bahn Mi Sandwiches, I decided to borrow from the Tex-Mex culture and cook the pork the same way I cook carnitas. This process is really an amazing one. You cook the meat on the stove submerged in liquid and other flavorings until the liquid is almost gone. Then you put the pot into a very hot oven covered and let the meat fry in its own fat which produces a beautiful caramelization on the meat and produces great crispy edges. Flavor town! I made a spicy mayo and quick pickled veggies for these sandwiches. And let me tell you, we thought these were awesome! If you can't find a Bahn Mi truck near you, now you can make your own!
CRISPY PORK BAHN MI SANDWICHES
FOR THE CRISPY PORK:
One 4-5 lb pork butt, cut into about 2-inch cubes (don't trim off the fat)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 T chili paste (sambal oelek)
8 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 T bacon grease (or lard or shortening)
Juice of 1 lime
1 T Japanese 7 spice
1 T white miso paste
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 T sesame oil
1/4 C brown sugar
3 T fish sauce
4 C chicken stock
1/2 C soy sauce
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
FOR THE PICKLED VEGGIES:
1 C Daikon radish, cut into matchsticks (regular radishes will work too)
1 C carrots, cut into matchsticks
1/2 C thinly sliced red onion
1 C rice wine vinegar
2 T brown sugar
1 T fish sauce
2 T soy sauce
FOR THE SPICY MAYO:
1 C mayonnaise
1 to 1 1/2 T chili paste (sambal oelek)
1 green onion, very thinly sliced
FOR THE SANDWICH:
Six 6-inch baguettes, warmed (or hoagies or sandwich rolls)
Fresh jalapenos, sliced
NOTES: The chili paste is easily found in most grocery stores in the Asian section. It is also sometimes called chili sauce. It is not the same as the Heinz brand of chili sauce which is horseradish based. The Japanese 7 spice is something that I can only find in an Asian grocery store. You can substitute Chinese 5 spice which is found in most grocery stores. I found the miso paste in a higher end grocery store in town in the refrigerated part of the produce section. It is not necessary, but it gives a good flavor. I found the daikon radish in the higher end grocery store too. It looks like a large white carrot.
For the crispy pork, put all of the pork ingredients into a large ovenproof pot or dutch oven that has a lid. Bring the pot to a boil and then slightly reduce the heat. Boil uncovered until most of the liquid has cooked out, about 1 to 1 /2 hours. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook the pork for about 30 minutes or until the pork is well browned and crispy on the edges. Let the meat cool enough where you can shred it.
While the meat is boiling, mix together the spicy mayo ingredients and put it in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
For the pickled veggies, put the daikon radish, carrots, and onion in a bowl. Put the rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, fish sauce, and soy sauce into a small pot. Bring it to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Pour the mixture over the veggies and cover. Put the veggies in the fridge for at least an hour to cool.
To shred the meat, you can use two forks and kind of just pull it apart. My husband came up with a really quick solution for this. If you have a stand mixer, put the meat in the bowl of the mixer with the batter attachment. It shreds the meat in seconds.
Wrap the baguettes in foil and warm them in the oven briefly. Split the bread open lengthwise. Spread some of the spicy mayo in the bread and add in the meat and pickled veggies. Garnish the sandwiches with the cilantro and jalapeno slices.