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Pork Belly Banh Mi

Pork Belly Banh Mi

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  • Americans think they have sandwiches down.

    Hamburger, cold cut on rye, and Philly cheesesteak. What more do you need?

    Unfortunately, in my opinion none of these can touch the Vietnamese sandwich called banh mi. The combination of marinated and roasted meat, spicy mayo, and tangy pickled veggies is just irresistible.

    For my Pork Belly Banh Mi recipe, I made everything from scratch except the bread. I’ll show you how to do the same and also suggest a few shortcuts.

    Pork belly can be an intimidating cut of meat, but just know that it’s really hard to mess up. The belly has so much fat in it that it’s almost impossible to overcook!

    The key to cooking it right is to take a sharp knife and score the skin of the belly, making light cuts all over the skin. This helps the fat render out of the belly as it cooks and makes the top of the belly super-crispy.

    After I scored mine, I also rubbed it with sesame chili oil and seasoned it well with salt and pepper.

    Start the belly roasting at 500 degrees to get some nice browning on it. Roast it at that temperature for 30 minutes. Then turn your oven down to 350 and roast it for another 45-55 minutes.

    It should be really crispy on the exterior and a lot of fat will have rendered out of it.

    This was my finished roasted belly.

    Once it cools a bit, you can go ahead and slice it up. For the actual sandwich, I recommend dicing the slices a bit so you get some crunchy bits and some tender bits in each bite.

    Okay. Let’s go back in time. While the belly is roasting, you can make toppings for the sandwich. The first topping is a spicy homemade mayonnaise. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of making mayo, feel free to use store-bought mayo and just stir in some hot sauce.

    If you do want to make your mayo, I like to temper mine over a water bath to kill any bacteria that might be in the egg. To do this, just whisk together the yolk, water, lime juice, and salt in a medium metal bowl.

    Whisk this over simmering water until the mixture starts to steam and froth. It will also thicken a bit. It should only take around two minutes to heat up and you want to make sure you are whisking constantly so the eggs don’t cook!

    Once the yolk mixture is steaming and frothy, you can be fairly certain that any bacteria is killed. Now go ahead and start whisking in your oil, starting with a very small amount. I start with literally a few drops of oil and whisk it in. As the mayo thickens you can add more and more oil at once.

    Eventually, you’ll have all of your oil whisked in. Then you can stir your hot sauce into the thick condiment.

    This might seem hard, but once you get the hang of it you can whip up homemade mayo very quickly. I can make a batch in about five minutes these days.

    Besides the mayo, I also mixed up a quick slaw to top the sandwich. The slaw has a fair amount of vinegar which helps cut through some of the fat from the pork.

    Just dice the daikon radish very finely (you could use normal radishes also) and then shred the carrots and cabbage and toss everything with rice wine vinegar, salt, and sugar.

    Let this sit for at least thirty minutes before using it, but FYI it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

    You’ll also want some fresh cucumber and cilantro to top the sandwich. These give a nice herb flavor and some serious crunch.

    When you’re ready to make a sandwich, toast some baguette and slice it in half. I like to use about eight inches of baguette for each sandwich.

    Then slather each side with the spicy mayo and top it with a few handfuls of diced pork belly.

    Top with a handful of the slaw and fresh cucumbers and cilantro. I also like to add an extra drizzle of hot sauce to my sandwich, but that’s personal preference.

    This sandwich is rich, tangy, and filling. I’m pretty sure I could eat as many of these as you put in front of me!

    Nick is seriously in love with this sandwich. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, his book, Cornerstone Cooking, and check out his Tablespoon profile.

Pork Belly Recipe for Bánh Mì (Vietnamese Sandwiches)

At Vietnamese sandwich shops, you’ll find a dizzying number of meat options like grilled chicken, grilled beef, sardines, and even some Chinese-influenced options like xíu mại. However, with Vietnamese sandwiches, pork seems to be king–you’ll always see pork options like chả lụa (meatloaf), thịt nướng (grilled pork), nem nướng (ground & grilled pork), (shredded pork skin), and combinations of these.

In this recipe, I’ll show you how to make thịt ba rọi, or seasoned pork belly, for Vietnamese bánh mì.

At sandwich shops you usually won’t find pork belly as an option. They’ll use other cuts simply to reduce costs. One difference between this recipe and xa xiu/char siu is the latter would call for pork shoulder and barbecuing. Since we’re going through the effort of making this at home we’re going to use fattier, tastier pork belly!

Pork belly banh mi

You’ve invited the gang over to watch the game, and the tension rises as the clock winds down to the half. Maybe it’s due to the excitement of the game, but the sense of anticipation is just as likely to come from that happy halftime question: What are we eating?

How do you satisfy the ravenous masses? Try sandwiches.

Nowadays, the most intriguingly delicious sandwiches are balanced meals -- entree, salad and bread. Pan-fried cod is topped with radicchio slaw. Edamame hummus gets crunchy with grated carrots and a salad that includes crushed wasabi peas. A Vietnamese-style pork belly banh mi incorporates pickled vegetables.

At its core, the sandwich is comfortingly familiar, but it’s also become the current culinary muse of many a chef. Take the pork belly banh mi from Mendocino Farms Sandwiches & Marketplace in downtown Los Angeles. It has gained a loyal following among the hundreds of lunching workers the place serves each weekday.

Chef Judy Han takes a large slab of pork belly and braises it slowly, like Japanese buta kakuni, in a sweetened soy-sake broth spiked with ginger and garlic until it’s fork tender. She chills it overnight, then dices and pan-fries the pieces so they’re crisp on the outside and meltingly tender within.

At home, you can do the same thing -- roast the pork and make the quick-pickled vegetables over a weeknight or two.

On the day of the game, assemble the sandwiches. Spread chipotle mayonnaise on a ciabatta roll (Han uses these thin, tender rolls instead of the baguettes more often used for banh mi).

Add a generous handful of pork, the pickled daikon and carrots, some cucumber, cilantro and a few slices of jalapeno, then grill. The crisp, fresh herb and tangy pickled vegetables provide a nice contrast to the rich bits of tender pork.

Or put your fish and slaw combo between a couple of slices of bread. Several hours or a day ahead, toss shredded radicchio and red cabbage with capers, olives and a light vinaigrette for an assertively colorful slaw.

Shortly before serving, toast thick pumpernickel slices and slather half with a little Dijon mustard and the rest with some creamy horseradish. Pan-fry lightly floured cod to a crisp golden-brown, and assemble the sandwiches as the fish comes out of the pan.

For an excitingly hot-sweet and hearty vegetarian sandwich, owner Jeffrey Price of Skratch Restaurant in Culver City offers an edamame hummus sandwich.

To make it at home, start with a robust do-ahead edamame spread, vibrant green and nutty (it’s a blend of spinach, edamame and garbanzo beans) with notes of garlic and tahini. Make the miso dressing ahead of time too.

Assembly is simple you could let your guests make their own. Just spread the hummus on a rustic ciabatta roll and top it with sliced cucumber and tomato along with a salad of baby greens tossed with crushed wasabi peas and a tangy miso vinaigrette.

Pile the sandwiches high and serve with a stack of napkins. You may have no control over the game, but you’ve just scored with the gang.

How to Make Pork Banh Mi?

First, you marinate the pork with lemongrass and other seasonings. Fire up the grill to grill the pork.

Next, you assemble the sandwich by spreading mayonnaise on the baguette before adding the grilled pork in the middle of the baguette bread. Top off with pickled carrots and daikon, cilantro and you will have a wholesome and filling sandwich.

  • baguettes
  • Thai red curry sauce for serving
  • cilantro for serving
  • cutting board
  • knife

Cut off ends of baguettes and halve crosswise, then cut each piece lengthwise and spread Thai red curry sauce on both halves. Layer with sliced pork belly, quick pickled vegetables, chili slices, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Pork Belly Bánh mì Sliders

What to do with leftover pork belly: Make Bánh mì sliders!

I’ve mentioned before that I occasionally do a very shameful thing when I buy too many vegetables. Since I’m already over-sharing, I might as well admit to another terrible habit. I really enjoy cooking for dinner parties and family get-togethers, but way too often I’ll wrap whatever protein is left over in foil and throw it in the freezer where it will stay for months, gathering frost and becoming less appetizing by the hour (I’m looking at you Easter ham).

I know, I know. There are so many great things to make with leftovers. Soups, stews, salads, casseroles, and honestly I do make these things but the sad truth is the thrill is usually gone and I’m doing it to not be wasteful, as opposed to being actually inspired. So you can see why I was nervous as I wrapped the remains of the Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze in its foil coffin (I’m feeling dramatic today) and tossed it in the freezer. “You were so good”, I said to it mournfully, “but it’s been two nights and I’m ready for a salad”.

Several weeks went by and every few days I would guiltily toss the little frozen pork belly package to the side as I looked for dinner options. Then it hit me Pork belly Bánh mì sliders. As it happens, we were going to have a few friends over for a Halloween/birthday get-together and it would be nice to have something a bit more substantial than dips. Turns out they were good. Like, really good.

This is now officially my favorite use of pork belly. The sweet, vinegary pickled carrots and daikon really cut through the richness of the pork. The crisp cucumber and bright cilantro make it light and fresh. Seriously, not kidding, make the pork belly just so you can make these sliders.

  • ½ lb cooked, leftover pork belly, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
  • 16 Slider buns (I like the soft potato ones)
  • 1 cup carrots, peeled and julienned (about 2 carrots)
  • 1 cup daikon radish, peeled and julienned
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, grated or minced
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest (about 1/2 lime)
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 persian or kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves and tender stems separated
  • Sriracha sauce (optional)

Place carrots, daikon and salt in a colander over the sink and mix together. Allow to sit for an hour, tossing together every 15 minutes. Thoroughly rinse, drain and place into a bowl.

Meanwhile, place sugar, vinegar and water in a small pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then pour over carrot and daikon. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Place mayonnaise, garlic, scallions, lime zest and juice into a small bowl and stir together.

In a shallow skillet, cook pork belly slices until hot and crispy on both sides (about 5-7 minutes total)

Spread a small amount of the mayo onto the tops and bottoms of each bun. Place a two pieces of pork belly on each bottom bun and top with some pickled daikon and carrots. Add a slice or two of cucumber and a sprig of cilantro. Add a squirt of sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce) to taste. Place tops on each slider and gently press. Devour while moaning.

Baguette vs. King&rsquos Hawaiian Jalapeño Rolls

In traditional Vietnamese cooking, Banh Mi refers to the bread used, a French Baguette. However, as Banh Mi style sandwiches have gained popularity in the Western world, particularly the US, Banh Mi has come to represent more of the style of sandwich &mdash one topped with Asian pickled vegetables rather than the bread used.

For these Ground Pork Banh Mi sliders, I chose the new King&rsquos Hawaiian Jalapeño Sweet Rolls. Have you tried them yet? They&rsquore pretty amazing.

French baguettes are one of my favorite crusty bread but for entertaining, it&rsquos not always practical or portable. The idea with the slider is that guests can be mobile, mingle and carry a drink in one hand and nibble on yummy food with the other.

The new King&rsquos Hawaiian Jalapeño rolls are the perfect vehicle for this &mdash they are soft and fluffy with a hint of sweetness and a touch of spiciness from the jalapeños. They&rsquore also the perfect size for entertaining and allow my guests to move around freely and mingle while they snack. SCORE!

Pork Belly Bahn Mi Bowl with Pickled Carrots

Rice noodles can replace the rice in this deconstructed version of the popular Vietnamese sandwich. Just cook 12 oz. (375 g) dried noodles in boiling water according to the package directions, drain, rinse with cold water and toss with a little sesame oil.

Pork Belly Bahn Mi Bowl with Pickled Carrots


For the pork belly:

  • 1 1/2 lb. (750 g) skin-on, center-cut pork belly, cut in half
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 Tbs. peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. Asian fish sauce

For the pickled carrots:

  • 5 carrots (about 10 oz./310 g total weight), peeled and julienned
  • 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. sugar
  • Kosher salt

For the maple glaze:

  • 3 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbs. Asian fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4-inch (10-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled

For assembling:

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp. sriracha chili sauce
  • 2 cucumbers, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
  • 6 cups (1 1/2 lb./750 g) cooked jasmine rice
  • 1 jalapeño chile, sliced
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. To make the pork belly, season the pork with salt. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the pork, skin side down, and cook until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the soy sauce, maple syrup, and fish sauce and stir to combine. Remove from the heat. Return the pork, skin side up, to the pot. Add enough water to almost cover the pork, leaving about 1/4 inch (6 mm) exposed. Bake until the skin is crispy and darkened and the meat is very tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

3. While the pork belly cooks, make the pickled carrots: Put the carrots in a heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) water, the vinegar, sugar and 1 1/4 tsp. salt. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour over the carrots, making sure they are completely submerged, and let cool to room temperature. Set aside until ready to use.

4. While the carrots cool, make the maple glaze: In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, ginger and 1 Tbs. water and bring to a vigorous simmer, whisking frequently. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the glaze has thickened slightly and becomes glossy, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. If the glaze is too thick, add up to 2 Tbs. more water. Remove and discard the ginger. Set aside until ready to use.

5. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise and sriracha and stir until blended. In a separate bowl, toss together the cucumbers and the 1 Tbs. oil and season with salt.

6. Transfer the pork to a cutting board, let it rest for 5 minutes, then cut it into thin slices. Divide the rice evenly among 4 bowls. Top with the pork, pickled carrots, Sriracha mayonnaise, cucumbers, jalapeño, radishes and cilantro. Drizzle with the maple glaze and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Find more fresh and satisfying recipes for meals that pack a lot of punch in a single bowl in our One Bowl Meals , by Brigit Binns.

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Pete gets to work on his pastry. Upon looking back at the recipe, he realises he left the egg out of his dough. He asks the balcony if they think he could just blend the egg in. They tell him he has to start again. For some unknown reason he assumes the balcony knows what it's talking about, and starts again. Melissa drops by to tell him to hurry the f--- up. Khanh reassures him that he's going OK. Melissa disagrees: she wants him to hurry the f--- up.

I'm going to wrap all my food in pork crackling lattice from now on. #masterchefau

— I simp for Lady Dimitrescu (@shroomkin82) June 15, 2021

Maja is feeling insecure. "I know I should be chock-full of confidence," she laments, "but my head's just not in the game right now." Why should she be full of confidence? If I had her track record I sure as hell wouldn't be. She can't understand how a pate log works, and who can blame her? Khanh comes by and tells her how to do it, which is technically cheating.

Depinder and Tommy are cutting their skin into the lattice pattern. I mean, not their skin: the pork skin. The key to a beautiful pork skin lattice, of course, is…I have no idea, really. These people are making such painstaking cuts in pieces of pork skin and I assume they're doing the right thing but honestly 90 per cent of the actual cooking on this show might as well be magic as far as I'm concerned, and this is no different. Basically they are casting a spell on the pork so it turns into a pretty shape.

All of a sudden, the producers hit paydirt: Maja is crying. "I'm pretty exhausted," she admits, exposing the show's no-chairs policy in the starkest manner. Melissa comes over to comfort her. "Think about what you're capable of," she says, but it feels like it might've been thinking about that that made her cry in the first place. Still, Melissa's pep talk works – as it would, let's be honest, on any of us, because it's Melissa – and Maja gets her nose back to the grindstone.

Pep talk from Mumma Mel soothes anxiety #MasterChefAU

— Jo (@joughnought) June 15, 2021

From the balcony Kishwar and Minoli order her to go faster, an instruction that becomes much more difficult when Andy shows up and tells her to stop and listen to him. When she does stop and listen to him, he tells her to go faster, which she was already trying to do but was forced to go slower in order to hear Andy tell her to go faster. Do you see how you're not helping, Andy? Kishwar and Minoli should be the judges.

It is time for the Pork Wellingtons to go in the oven, which means it's time for the judges and the balcony and the camera crew and the health and safety representative to all start yelling "IN THE OVEN! IN THE OVEN!" like a nightmarish Maurice Sendak book. Justin observes that Depinder's pastry doesn't look quite right but offers no convincing explanation for why we should want to know what he thinks.

45 minutes to go and everyone is yelling at Maja to get her dish in the oven as if she had no idea that was what she should do. She knows she has to get it in the oven, leave her alone.

I don't know how the gantry thinks taking Maja to hurry up is helpful #MasterChefAU

— Lia (@LiaMirch) June 15, 2021

The losers now get working on their salads. "It's really important to get the salad right," says Depinder, even though everyone knows it's not. "Pete, how's your mayo?" calls Melissa. "It's sick!" Pete replies. "It's sick?" Melissa asks. "It's sick!" Pete answers. It is a horrible, horrible piece of television.

Time runs out, and the Wellingtons emerge from the ovens. The judges sit down to taste, because of course THEY get to sit down while they work.

Pete plates up his Wellington and lets us all know that he is a perfectionist in case we hadn't heard. The judges believe his dish is fantastic, although Andy believes that right on the edge the pork is slightly overcooked, which must cause Pete, as a perfectionist, untold agonies.

The placement of the pork is strange in this non-existent dish made purely for this challenge… #MasterchefAU

— The Washing Up (@thewashingup) June 15, 2021

Tommy plates up his pork. "That was 99 per cent yours," Jock says to Khanh, levelling a serious accusation of theft at Tommy. The judges are in raptures over how tasty Tommy's pork is, though Khanh seems a bit down in the dumps. The news that he's not the only one who can effectively Wellington a pork has really bummed him out.

Depinder enters with her dish. It has a weird texture. She's made a double layer of pastry, resulting in raw pastry which, as it turns out, was not in the recipe.

Maja comes with her tray of pork, heart beating like a jackhammer and sweat pouring from every follicle. Disappointingly, there are raw bits throughout, due to the pastry being too thick. "I feel for her, but you can't escape raw pork," says Jock, relishing the chance to break out his famous catchphrase.

At the denouement, Khanh says "I think you should all be proud of yourselves", but hanging unspoken in the air are the words "except Maja", and she must go home for the second time this series. Embarrassing, no? At least she's had some practice. Jock sings her praises. "Once you set your mind to something, you achieve it," he says, an assertion easily disproven by the fact he's making this speech in the first place.

I will miss Maja's spirit and her hair #MasterChefAU

— b99fan3000 (@b99fan3000) June 15, 2021

Sandwich assembly

1 1/3 cups braised pork belly

1 1/3 cups pickled carrot and daikon

1/2 cup julienned cucumber

4 teaspoons chopped cilantro

1 jalapeño sliced, more to taste

1. Spread each ciabatta half with 1 tablespoon of the aioli. Divide the pork belly among the 4 bottom ciabatta halves (one-third cup per sandwich), then top with the pickled vegetables. Sprinkle evenly with the cucumber, and repeat with the cilantro. Place 2 to 3 jalapeño slices on each half, or more to taste. Cover each sandwich with the remaining ciabatta bread.

2. Grill the sandwiches using a panini press or on a grill over medium heat and weighted with something heavy (like a cast-iron skillet). Cut each sandwich in half and serve immediately.

Each serving:787 calories 18 grams protein 64 grams carbohydrates 3 grams fiber 51 grams fat 20 grams saturated fat 78 mg. cholesterol 1,610 mg. sodium.

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