…from the California Kitchen
How you doin’? Do you know where the best French-style baguettes are baked? If you guessed Paris, you’re wrong. The most superb bread bakes are in Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as it used to be known. HCMC is the largest city in Vietnam situated in the southeastern region where the city surrounds the Saigon River. This was once the seat of government for the French Colonials.
Vietnam was ceded to France by the 1862 Treaty of Saigon. The city itself was planned by the French to transform into a large town for colonization. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, construction of various French-style buildings began, including a botanical garden, the Norodom Palace, Hotel Continental, Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Bến Thành Market, among many others. Saigon became known as "Pearl of the Orient" (Hòn ngọc Viễn Đông), or "Paris of the Extreme Orient." I can tell you after traveling there many times it still has that charm—both the land mass and the people.
On 27 April 1931, a new region called Saigon–Cholon consisting of Saigon and Cholon was formed; the name Cholon was dropped after South Vietnam gained independence from France in 1955. The city grew from 256,000 in 1930, to an influx of 1.2 million people in 1950. With this growth in citizens the French and Asian cultures “inter-married” resulting in a unique blend of cultures including Franco-Asian cuisine. It is little wonder that next to Pho, Pork Banh Mi is one of the most popular foods.
Ho Chi Minh City has a strong food and drink culture with lots of roadside restaurants, coffee shops and food stalls where locals and tourists can enjoy local cuisine and beverages at very low prices. It's currently ranked in the top five best cities in the world for street food.
Okay, enough history, let’s get into sandwich making. First you have to find a source for the best baguette in your city. That’s important because bread makes this sandwich very special.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 36 minutes
Yield: 2-1/4 cups vegetable mixture; 4 cups pork; makes 4 to 6 Sandwiches
For the sandwiches
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup Asian rice vinegar
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Persian cucumbers
1 cup shredded carrots
2 to 3 soft baguettes with a crispy thin crust
1/2 cup mayonnaise
10 fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
For the pork
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 (1-1/2-pound) pork tenderloins
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons Sriracha hot sauce
2 cups chicken broth
To make the vegetable garnish for the sandwiches
ChefSecret: For a little added flavor, I add a light smear of hoisin sauce over the pork.
Quip of the Day: Please join me in telling Walmart, “If I wanted to self-check I’d stay at home and shop on Amazon… for goodness’ sake, hire some cashiers."
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