Still in Melbourne for a couple more weeks, but wanted to post one more time about the delicious food here...
One of the things I'll miss most about Melbourne
is the ubiquity of a sandwich known as the Vietnamese Pork Roll (or Banh Mi). I've seen several versions of this sandwich around on the interweb, but my addiction is to the version available at the Hot Bread Bakery on Sydney Rd in Brunswick (conveniently located on my way home from the market where I buy all my produce on the weekends, such that the aromas wafting out from the bakery lure me through the door far too often...). This sandwich (pictured below on the right) consists of a baguette (fresh baked at the bakery) topped with pate, mayo, Chinese BBQ pork, two types of Vientnamese pork coldcuts (I have no idea what either is called), braised pork meatballs, pickled carrots, cucumber, cilantro, chillies, and a dash of fish sauce. The mix of the bright fresh flavors from the cilantro, cucumber, and carrots with the richness of the pate and meatballs is truly a thing of beauty.
I think most of my favorite things that I cook started out as something I tried at a restaurant and fell in love with, only to either move far away from that restaurant or have it taken off the menu, leaving me with no choice but to try to make it on my own... That's the story behind why I first started making an (awesome) thin-crust pizza with caramelized onions, prosciutto, and a lemon-pepper cream sauce... why I started making pineapple-ginger chicken with coconut rice... beef rendang with roti canai... crab Rangoon... the perfect roast duck curry... And, as of this weekend, that was the motivation behind the making of a totally kick-ass sandwich (pictured above on the left), which I will refer to as the Emily-Style Vietnamese Chicken Roll.
The "recipe" (it's a sandwich, so a recipe is mostly an ingredient list assembled on bread...) is below, along with recipes for the components. This took a couple hours of prep the day before, and led me to wonder if I'm a bit crazy to make this when I realized I have to take 9 different components out of my fridge when I want to make this sandwich for dinner on subsequent nights... but I honestly think the result is well worth the time and effort. I'll rest easier knowing that I'll be able to have a taste of "home" (Melbourne-home, that is) when I'm back in the US and can't find a $3 Banh Mi less than a block from my apartment like I can here...
Emily-Style Vietnamese Chicken Roll
*Amounts on all items are "to taste" or as dictated by the size of your sandwich roll. It is necessary to start prep on the components (recipes follow) at least a day before you plan to make this sandwich.
- Whole-egg Mayonnaise (homemade or purchased from a gourmet grocery...)
- Chicken Liver Pate (recipe below, or substitute store-bought)
- Grilled marinated chicken breast, thinly sliced (recipe below)
- Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs (recipe below), broken up to easily fit in the sandwich
- "Chicken Loaf" (store-bought processed chicken product), thinly sliced
- English cucumber, sliced ~1/4" thick on a bias
- Pickled carrots (recipe below)
- Cilantro leaves
- Red Chilies, thinly sliced
- Fish Sauce (optional)
- Crusty sandwich roll, toasted briefly in the oven
Slice roll most of the way through, leaving a "hinge" intact. Apply mayonnaise to one side and pate to the other. Top with the 4 types of chicken, followed by the cucumber, carrots, cilantro, and chilies. Add a couple drops of fish sauce and serve.
Chicken Liver Pate
This recipe makes more than you’ll need, but the leftovers are delicious on toasted baguette. I made mine “rustic” by using the coarsest blade on my food mill to puree it (since I’ve already sold my food processor), but a food processor would be faster and give the pate a silkier texture… although I sort of like the “rustic” texture I ended up with…
4 T + 125g butter
3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
~1T thyme leaves
500g chicken livers
2 T cognac
Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over moderately high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and thynme and sauté until softened and starting to color. Add the chicken livers and sauté until just cooked. Add cognac to deglaze, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Puree the mixture (either in a food mill or food processor), adding 125g of butter in small chunks as you work. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm.
Marinated Grilled Chicken for Vietnamese Chicken Roll
The flavor on this reminds me of jarred roasted peppers, and works nicely in the sandwich.
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1/4 C rice vinegar
2 t sugar
1 t salt
4 small red chilies, thinly sliced
Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag and marinate overnight. Remove from marinade and grill until just cooked through.
Vietnamese Chicken Meatballs
600g lean chicken mince
4 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 large shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons arrowroot or cornstarch
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
granulated sugar for rolling
Combine the all ingredients (other than the sugar) in a bowl, mixing well with your hands to combine. Leave overnight in the refrigerator for flavors to develop.
The next day, preheat the oven to 400° Fahrenheit. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Put about 1/2 cup of sugar on a plate. With slightly moistened hands, roll the chicken mixture into ~1 1/2-inch balls, then roll each ball in the sugar to evenly coat. Transfer meatballs to the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until just cooked through and beginning to lightly brown.
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups peeled and coarsely shredded carrots
Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat when the sugar and salt have dissolved and combine with the carrots, stirring to coat. Leave the carrots in the pickling mixture for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain well before use.