"I want to bring everything from Vietnam to America," said Thao. "Before were fought each other, and now we eat and make friends."
Banh mi is a good way to start -- it's sort of a Vietnamese hoagie, piled with at least 8 ingredients, including a home-made pate made of ground pork, pork liver, and pork fat. That's mixed with eggs, garlic, spices, soy and fish sauce, and half-and-half. Then it's baked.
For the actual sandwich, Thao takes a freshly baked baguette, scoops out much of the bread, and spreads on that pate. Then he adds things like mayo, cucumbers, hot sauce, roast pork, daikon, pickled carrots, or sweet sauce. The bread and pate may be French, but the rest of the flavors are Vietnamese.
There are other versions as well, like a spicy one with jalapeños. You can counteract that kick with a sweet Vietnamese iced coffee. There's counter seating, but most people take their food to go.
For each sandwich:
1. Slit the bread lengthwise, and then use your fingers or a bread knife to hollow out the insides, making a trough in both halves. Discard the insides or save it for another use, such as breadcrumbs. If necessary, crisp up the bread in a toaster oven preheated to 325ºF, and then let it cool for a minute before proceeding.
2. Generously spread the inside with mayonnaise. Drizzle in some Maggi Seasoning sauce or soy sauce. Start from the bottom portion of bread to layer in the remaining ingredients. (As with all sandwiches, you'll eventually develop an order for layering the filling so as to maximize the interaction between flavors and textures.) Close the sandwich, cut it in half crosswise for easy eating, and enjoy.
Daikon and Carrot Pickle
Do Chua Makes about 3 cups
Try this daikon and carrot pickle recipe once and then tweak the recipe to your liking. Variations include adding tangy-sweet-pungent pickled shallots (cu kieu) to the mixture, as well as making it heavier on the carrot side than the daikon side. I prefer to keep a higher ratio (say 2:1) of daikon to carrot as I like the mild bite of daikon radish. I like a tangy-sweet flavor whereas you can alter the ratio of sugar to vinegar to make the brine sweeter, and hence affect the pickle's flavor.
1. Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar. Use your hands to knead the vegetables for about 3 minutes, expelling the water from them. They will soften and liquid will pool at the bottom of the bowl. Stop kneading when you can bend a piece of daikon so that the ends touch but the daikon does not break. The vegetables should have lost about one-fourth of their volume. Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water, then press gently to expel extra water. Return the vegetables to the bowl if you plan to eat them soon, or transfer them to a 1-quart jar for longer storage.
2. To make the brine, in a bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, the vinegar, and the water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour over the vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Beyond that point, they get tired.
Preheat oven to 350. Cut liver and pork fat into small pieces and add to food processor and give it a few pulses. Add ground pork, garlic, shallots, 5 spice powder, soy sauce, fish sauce and sugar, salt and pepper. Process until smooth.
In mixing bowl, incorporate the meat and liver mixture with the wine and eggs. Line bottom of baking or ceramic pan with overlapping pieces of bacon. and then fill with meat/liver mixture. Cover top with pieces of bacon.
Place in oven in a larger baking pan and add enough water to cover 2/3rds of the pan containing the meat/liver mixture. Bake for about 1-1.5 hrs. The pate will contract and the juices will be on the bottom. Allow to cool and soak up the juices/fat when cooling. Remove from pan and remove excess bacon and the bay leaves. You're ready to spread this delicious pate on banh mi or any other appetizers.