If you live in Southern California, especially near Little Saigon, chances are that you'll know what a "banh mi" is. "Banh mi" are delicious french baguettes filled with all sorts of fresh meats and vegetables. Why french bread? Because the French landed in Vietnam in 1858 and stayed for a very long time, influencing Vietnamese culture in many ways, including food and the Latin alphabet. Although you can have it in many ways, our favorite way to have "banh mi" is with grilled pork. Since we don't have any wild pig (would be nice to get some... hint, hint), we used venison instead and it did the job.
"Banh mi" has gotten so popular that we see recipes popping up here and there in many national magazines. We were very surprised to see a version of it in Field and Stream magazine a few months back. However, we offer you an authentic version. After all, I have been eating it for most my life.
Prep Time: At least 4 hours
Cook Time: 3-7 minutes
- 1 lb. venison, cut into thin strips
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1 tbs. brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbs. fish sauce (Don't be afraid. It won't make your meat taste like fish.)
- 1 tbs. sherry
- 2 tbs. peanut oil
- half a cucumber, julienned
- 4 sprigs of cilantro
- good mayonnaise
- 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
- pickled carrots and daikon (you can buy if you live near a Vietnamese supermarket, or use this easy recipe here)
- 1 french baguette, cut in two and sliced open (or any crusty bread with a soft center. Very important that the bread is fresh)
1. Trim venison of all silver-skin and fat.
2. Cut into thin strips, like so. They don't have to be in uniform lengths.
3. Combine with marinade ingredients (garlic, shallots, brown sugar, black pepper, fish sauce, sherry and peanut oil). Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
4. Thread venison slices onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers (about 10). Cook over preheated grill, directly over coals. About 3 minutes each side.
DO NOT OVERCOOK VENISON.
The jalapeno and cucumber are supposed to be cut like so. Cut around the core of the cucumber. You want the crunchy outside, not the soft, seedy inside.
5. Lightly toast the bread in the oven, just to warm them up. Slather a good helping of mayo on the inside. Fill with grilled venison strips.
We just used Hellmann's Light Mayo. Traditionally, full fat mayo is used for "banh mi," meaning egg yokes only. If you want to try homemade, try this recipe here. It does make a difference.
6. Then, fill with the julienned cucumber, pickled carrots and daikon, jalapeno and stuff each with 2 whole sprigs of cilantro (stem and all).
All these elements are very important to creating that traditional Vietnamese "banh mi" taste.
If you want more kick, serve with Sriracha sauce on the side. If you really want to indulge, slather softened butter onto the bread along with the mayo. Enjoy!