Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)

We have no shortage of good banh mi around my office, but I wanted to try to re-create one of these delicious little sandwiches myself. A year or so ago, I found and amazing recipe for Thit Nuong (Vietnamese grilled pork) from gastronomyblog.com. I adapted it a bit, using pork tenderloin instead of pork butt and eliminated a few of the ingredients but realized it would be great for a banh mi filling. I was right ūüôā¬†This meat can also be served over rice noodles with additional accompaniments (this was how it was used in the original blog post I found).
*please note, this is not an authentic banh mi recipe, just one I adapted to my taste buds. 

Grilled Pork Banh Mi (serves 4-6)

Ingredients

For the meat:

2 lbs pork tenderloin, thinly sliced approximately 1/4 inch thick
1 large shallot, finely minced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup lemongrass, finely minced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

For the mayo:

1/2 cup low-fat mayo
2 tablespoons sriracha (or to taste)

Accompaniments:

4-6 crusty bread rolls
cilantro
mint
basil
julienned carrots
julienned diakon
julienned cucumbers
sliced jalapenos

Directions:

1. Combine all meat ingredients from shallot through vegetable oil in a large non reactive bowl
2. Place pork in marinade mixture, coat well
3. Allow the meat to soak overnight (or for best results, 24 hours)
4. Thread pork onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water for 20 minutes
5. Bbq pork over medium high heat until caramelized and cooked through (about 3-5 minutes per side)
6. While the meat is cooking, heat rolls in a slightly warmed oven, about 200 degrees.
7. Remove pork from skewers and place in a large serving dish
8. Slice the rolls and spread about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the mayo on each roll
9. Add meat, and any of the accompaniments above

Paella

It’s taken me awhile to write this post, not because of how detailed it is, but because I want to make sure I can do it justice. I lived in Spain for 5 months in 2004, and one of my favorite things about Spain was the vibrant colors and the passion they have for their food. In most of the coastal cities during the warmer months, you can find outdoor fires with large paella pans cooking on them with everything from fish to chorizo to shellfish.

It took me until a year or two ago (when my lovely friends Hannah and Jenny gave me a paella cookbook and pan for my birthday) to actually make paella. I knew it would never be the same, but I had to give it a shot. It’s one of those things that Spanish women, including my amazing host mom, can put together in a snap but for me it was more of a time-consuming process. (Well worth it though!)

The Pan
This recipe calls for the use of a paella pan, but a large skillet (16-20 inch) will work in a pinch. Do not use a non stick or cast iron pan as they are thicker and won’t give you that caramelized crispy bit of rice that is to die for. To feed 4-5 people use a 16 inch pan – add an additional inch per person from there!
The Rice
If you are lucky enough to have a Spanish specialty store around you (We have a great one here in Seattle called The Spanish Table),¬†they have great selections of paella rice. If you don’t, you can use arborio rice, japanese short grain rice or even calrose rice. The standard serving portion is 1/2 cup uncooked rice per person.

The “Sofrito”
The sofrito is a saute of vegetables that typically includes green or red peppers, garlic and tomatoes. They are cooked until pasty, aromatic and sweet. The key to a great sofrito (which you can buy from select Latin markets, Goya makes a good sofrito) is a ripe tomato. They must be peeled and seeded and finely chopped. The sofrito starts out with sauteing the chopped peppers, adding the garlic and then the tomatoes. The vegetables are cooked over medium low heat, until a paste is formed.

Ok, so now that we have all the paella “basics” let’s get to the recipe! As with most of my recipes on this blog, paella is pretty easy to make adjustments to. If you don’t like seafood, you can use only the meat or vice versa. It also makes amazing leftovers!

Paella Mixta (serves 4-6) 

Ingredients:
6 cups chicken stock
6 boneless/skinless chicken thighs
1 lb. large uncooked/cleaned shrimp
3-4 spicy andouille sausages, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
6 Tbs. olive oil
Salt
Pepper
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped (see sofrito note above)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 pinches saffron threads (about 20) lightly toasted and ground (if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, you can use a rolling-pin to crush the saffron)
3 cups arborio or other short grain rice

Directions:
1. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper. Add 2 Tbs. of oil to the paella pan and heat to medium. Add the chicken and cook until both sides are browned. Transfer to a large platter
2. Add the shrimp, sausage and a tad more oil, to the pan and cook until pink (about 3 minutes). Transfer to the platter
3. Remove any of the solids left behind by the chicken and shrimp and begin to prepare the sofrito in the paella pan
4. Add 1 Tbs oil to the pan (still over medium heat) and add the bell pepper. Cook until soft (about 3 minutes)
5. Add the garlic and the tomatoes and 1/2 tsp. salt. and reduce the heat to medium low. Stir from time to time and cook until the tomatoes begin to darken, about 5 minutes
6. Return the chicken and the juices to the pan and cook about 5 more minutes
7. Once the sofrito is cooked, add the paprika and stir constantly for 30 seconds
8. Add the 6 cups chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes
9. Add the saffron and adjust for salt if needed
10. Bring the liquid to a boil and sprinkle in the rice. With a wooden spoon, feel around to pan to make sure the rice is evenly distributed – DO NOT STIR AGAIN!
11. Lay the cooked shrimp and sausage slices on top and cook uncovered for 10 minutes over high heat (note: if your burner is smaller than your pan like mine is, make sure you are moving the pan around to distribute the heat)
12. Reduce the heat to low and cook for an additional 8 minutes, or until the liquid is gone and the rice is “al punto” (al dente)
13. Remove the pan from the heat, cover with a few paper towels and let stand for 5 minutes.
14. Fluff with a fork and serve!

Adobo Marinaded Pork Tacos

I normally go for carne asada or chicken tacos, but this marinade seemed insanely well suited for a pork tenderloin. It really can be used for any type of meat and the marinade can be saved in the fridge for up to a month or more. This marinade is slightly sweet and pairs well with a fruit salsa, caramelized onions and cotija cheese or just a simple squeeze of lime and a few pieces of avocado.
I combined these tacos with a favorite rice and bean recipe from Rick Bayless for the perfect mexican dinner.

Adobo Pork Tacos (adapted from Rick Bayless’ Everyday Mexican)

Ingredients:
1 TBS. olive oil
5 garlic cloves put through a garlic press
1/3 cup ancho chili powder
2 TBS. cider vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 c. water
salt
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
Limes (for serving)
Cilantro (for serving)
Caramelized onions (for serving)

Directions:
1. In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook one minute, then add the ancho powder, vinegar, oregano, sugar 1 tsp. salt and 3/4 cup water. Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
2.  Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes

3. Cut pork tenderloin into 5-6 inch pieces. Using a basting brush, paint the marinade onto the pork
4. Fully coat each side of the pork and place in the refrigerator for as little as 2 hours and up to 8 hours.
5. Heat a gas grill to medium high heat
6. Cook pork until the middle is pink – about 10-12 minutes.
7. Allow pork to cool slightly, then cut into bite size pieces.
8. Heat corn tortillas and serve pork with a squeeze of lime, a few avocado slices and cilantro (can also serve with caramelized onions and cilantro as seen in my photo). Serve with rice (recipe below)
Rice and Black Beans (adapted from Rick Bayless Everyday Mexican)

Ingredients:
2 TBS. olive oil
1 cup medium grain white rice
1 small white onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed

Directions:
1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large oven safe skillet, heat the oil over medium heat
3. Saute the onions and the garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes
4. Add the rice, stir constantly until the rice turns a milky white color (about 4 minutes)
5. Add the chicken broth and the beans, bring mixture to a boil
6. Stir a few times and then cover with foil
7. Place skillet in pre heated oven, bake for 25 minutes
8. Remove from the oven and fluff rice with a fork


Slow Cooker Pork with Pickled Tomatillos and Jalapenos

Usually when you think of slow cooker recipes, you think of stews, soups or pot roasts. I would have never thought to make this Mexican inspired pork dish if it hadn’t been for the wonderful Rick Bayless. In his cookbook, Everyday Mexican. he actually has several recipes that utilize the slow cooker, I’ve never used mine the same way again, I was hooked!

The other thing that I love about this (and a lot of Rick’s recipes) is that it’s healthy. It uses the tomatillos natural juice as the base of the cooking sauce, and adds relatively little else. I made quite a few changes to Rick’s original recipe, but the idea is the same. This dish would be good for a burrito or soft taco filling, or just as is over rice. (I forgot to take pictures, so use your imagination?)

Slow Cooker Pork with Pickled Tomatillos and Jalapenos

Ingredients:
10-12 pickled tomatillos cut into small pieces (recipe here) OR 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 pickled jalapeno (if using pickled tomatillos) 3-4 canned pickled jalapenos stemmed, halved and seeds scraped out (if you are using regular tomatillos)
1/2 loosely packed and roughly chopped cilantro (divided use)
1 1/2 – 2 lbs boneless pork shoulder or tenderloin
1 TBS. worcestershire sauce
1 can large white beans

Directions:
1. Spread the tomatillos into the bottom of your slow cooker evenly
2. Spread the garlic, jalapenos and half the cilantro on top of the tomatillos
3. Cut the pork into cubes and in a large bowl, mix the pork with the worcestershire sauce
4. Place the pork on top of the tomatillo mixture
5. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. (Around hour 3 if you can, stir up the mixture)
6. Add the beans at the very end of the cooking time. Allow them about 15 minutes to warm through
7. Use the pork mixture as a filling for burritos or soft tacos, or simply spoon over rice and add the additional cilantro.