I was busy at the smoker* yesterday preparing a couple of soy ginger marinaded pork tenderloins for spring rolls when a friend called us up for dinner. We invited her over without hesitation, but later remembered that she's pretty into Catholicism. Dr. Chop ran to the store to pick up some tofu and saved dinner for our pal.
I was left with two smoked tenderloins and a craving for some Vietnamese sandwich action. Lucky for me, teh Google was there to provide a little help.
You'll need the following to make the slaw:
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/2 cup julienned carrot
1/2 cup julienned daikon radish
Method: In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Transfer the vinegar mixture to a bowl and cool. Add the carrot and daikon, mix well, and season with salt. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes or store in the refrigerator up to overnight.
The night before marinade the pork tenderloin in about 2 cups low sodium soy sauce, about an inch and a half of fresh peeled, finely grated ginger, a couple cloves garlic smashed and quick minced, and a couple shakes of red chili flakes.
When smoking a pork tenderloin I begin by creating two zones for my charcoal grill, the fire side and a drip pan containing water (or PBR, same diff, right?) for the cool side. With the coals bunched up against one end, I set the grate in place and sear the tenderloins on all sides. A little char goes a long way, but what you're looking for is a nice, deep browning on all sides. I remove the meat to a platter, remove the grate, and add the smoker box to the coals. I almost always opt for fruit woods when smoking pork, apple being my favorite. Be sure to soak the chips for at least a half hour before you begin smoking as burnt chips will leave a pretty nasty aftertaste on your dinner. Replace the grate, and place the tenderloins on the cool zone over the drip pan. I place the lid on with the vent over the cool zone to help draw the smoke in the direction of the meat. Tenderloins should only take about 40 minutes to cook through, and according to several sources, including the g'ment, you can remove pork at 145˚, but I prefer an internal temp of about 165˚ for pork loins and roasts as a matter of texture. When you're about 5˚ from your desired finished temperature add a decent helping of honey to the roasts. This little bit of glaze will help cut the spiciness of the ginger, and will give the finished produce quite a bit more depth of flavor.
Okay, so you've stuck it out and made the pork, got together the ingredients for the slaw, and are going to follow through to make the banh mi. You'll need the following:
Cilantro to taste
thin slices of cucumber
mayo (spiced with sriracha if that's how you roll...)
A french baguette (the better quality roll the better the finished product. Walmart bakery style may get you through in a pinch, but their bread pales in comparison to the real deal.)
Slice the pork thin-ish, and pan sear in a little bacon fat. Yeah, pork fried in bacon fat. I did it. It was awesome. Really. Be careful not to overcook the meat at this stage. You're looking to put a little hurt on the meat without drying it out. Assemble the sandwich by slathering mayo on both sides, place a row on cucumber on the bottom, layer crispy pork next, add cilantro, and top with a heaping helping of the slaw. I chose to panini my sandwich to give the bread a bit of crunch, but this step really isn't necessary. You can always lightly butter the baguette and toast in the oven prior to making the sandwich to accomplish the same effect.
Yeah, it's pretty good, but not quite as good as the Quang.
*smoker at my house = a stainless steel box with a few holes drilled in the top. I think it works great.