Friday, February 3, 2012

Lazy Day Cooking - Pork Belly Bánh mì

 Pork Belly Banh Mi

Giselle from PainPerdue
Back in August, I spent a long weekend in New Orleans at Foodista's International Food Blogger Conference.  On Sunday after the conference ended, I went for lunch at Cochon Butcher with a couple of new food blogger friends, Dani who blogs at Romancing the Scone and Giselle of PainPerdu.  Cochon Butcher is not the most comfortable restaurant you'll find in the city -- I managed to knock my glass of wine off the narrow counter along the wall  where we initially perched on bar stools -- but the food is incredible and the customer service is excellent.  As in they gave me a new glass of wine even though the accident was completely my fault as I was using the almost empty glass as a tripod shortly before it fell.  

Dani and boyfriend Matt from Romancing the Scone
I was in the throes of Charcutepalooza so had to order their charcuterie platter to go with my glass of red wine.  Giselle ordered the Bánh mì.  I had vaguely heard of Bánh mì but had no clue what it was.  But man, did it look tasty!  Unfortunately, once home, the closest Vietnamese restaurant was over two hours away.  I had a fabulous dinner there with my Kim a couple of years ago and would love to go back.  But if I wanted the sandwich without the road trip, I was going to have to make it.  In those lazy days that follow Christmas,  I found myself with a couple of extra pounds of pork belly and the perfect cooking project.

The recipe I used to braise and caramelize the pork belly is  White on Rice's Caramel Braised Pork Belly Bánh mì  .  The blog post is part of her hilarious Nail Shop Eats series, chronicling her mother's cooking adventures in her nail salon.  I've made regular visits to my local nail shop for a number of years now.  The Vietnamese-American owners John and Tammy have a lovely salon and do a great job but, sadly, they never cook anything.  The recipe for the Pickled Daikon and Carrot is from Battle of the Bánh mì.  I was not sure exactly what kind of pork pâté would be appropriate but I had some leftover Paté de Campagne  so used that.
For a perfect sandwich, choose rolls that are crisp on the outside but light and airy on the inside.

Pork Belly Bánh mì


For the Pickled Carrot and Daikon:
  • 1 1/2 cups  water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  •  1/4 pound carrots, shredded
  • 1/4 pound daikon radish, shredded
For the Braised Pork Belly:
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1-1 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 tablespoons water (divided)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  •  2 pounds pork belly, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
To finish:
  • 4 6-inch rolls
  • Pork pâté
  • Mayonnaise 
  • Soy sauce
  • Cilantro
  • 12 1/4-inch slices of cucumber 
  1. To pickle the carrot and daikon, first put the water in a small sauce pan and warm it over low heat.  Stir in the vinegar, sugar and salt.  Continue to stir until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss together the shredded carrot and daikon to combine thoroughly.  Blot with paper towels to remove any excess moisture.
  3. Pack the carrot and daikon into a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Pour the vinegar mixture over the vegetables until they are covered.  
  4. Cover the jar and let the mixture pickle for one hour.
  5. Put the suar and 2 tablespoons of the water in a medium heavy-bottom sauce pan and place the pan over medium heat.  Stir using a wooden spoon while the sugar melts and the sauce starts to turn golden.  Watch it closely, continuing to stir.  Remove the sauce pan from the heat as soon as the sauce caramelizes and turns golden brown.
  6. If the sauce is too thick,  sparingly and carefully add up to another tablespoon of water, quickly stirring it in.  Set the caramel sauce aside.
  7. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the olive oil and when hot, add the shallot.  Cook for 2 minutes then add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes until they soften.  
  8. Add the cubed pork belly to the pot and sear the cubes on each side, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  9. Stir in the fish sauce and cook the pork belly another 5 minutes.
  10. Add 1 to 1 1/2 cups water so the the pork is just covered.  Add the peppercorns, lower the heat, and braise the pork for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Add the caramel sauce and continue to braise the pork, stirring occasionally, for about an hour until it is tender.
  12. Slice the rolls lengthwise. Spread the cut-side of the bottom half of the roll with the pâté and the top half of the cut-side of the top half of the roll with mayonnaise
  13. Spoon the pork belly onto the roll and top with soy sauce, cilantro, pickled carrot and daikon, and sliced cucumber.


Dani said...

Hi Lynn - I love the looks and sounds of this homemade banh mi recipe! That was such a fun outing you, me and Gisele had, wine shenanigans and all!

Gisele aka LA2LAChef said...

Gosh, Lynn,

My uncle mentioned head cheese a few days ago, and I've been dreaming about that Bánh mi ever since. Past a L.A. Vietnamese food truck yesterday, so of course, had to stop and try one of theirs, but it didn't begin to compare to Cochon's. I;m sure your Pork Belly one completely outshines it , too. Food trucks- bah humbug!