Chicken Meatball Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches)

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I remember my first Banh Mi sandwich that I devoured in San Francisco while traipsing around the city with my dear friend Carly. She took me to a fabled store in the Tenderloin district where the sandwiches cost about $2 (but probably could have been sold for $9.) My first taste was that of love. Herby, sweet, salty, cruchy and fresh, these sandwiches are a perfect way to utilize some of the garden veggies you may be growing out back, or the farmer’s market produce you might pick up on the weekends.

This recipe comes from the January 2010 edition of Bon Appétit. You can find the original recipe here. I stayed pretty true to the original recipe, but substituted ground chicken breast instead of the ground pork. This saved about 100 calories (of fat) per serving so I thought it was worth it. You put so much goodness into the meat, that I didn’t miss the fatty porky flavor and neither did Edward.

Next time I make these, I might try cooking the meat on the grill, although I’ll have to figure out some way to bind the meat– as it is, it is a little too gloppy to make solid burger (maybe panko?) I’m also interested in exploring vegetarian versions of this sandwich. In San Fran, I sampled a tofu Banh Mi that had deliciously marinated and sweet grilled or fried tofu.

There are several components for the sandwiches and the ingredients are divided accordingly…

Carrot & Daikon Slaw: 

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated peeled daikon radish (or plain old red radishes)
  • 1 very thinly sliced small cucumber (optional)
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Mix these ingredients together in a medium bowl and let sit at room temperature for about an hour. 

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Hot Chili Mayo:

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)

Mix these ingredients together and set aside in the refrigerator. 

Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)*
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Mix these ingredients together and then shape into 1-inch balls. When ready to cook, coat a large pan with about a tablespoon of Asian sesame oil and fry/saute about half of the meatballs until they are browned on all sides and cooked through. This will take about 15 minutes. Remove the first batch from the pan to a clean plate and tent with foil, or place in a 300 degree oven. Then repeat with the other meatballs.

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Other ingredients for the sandwiches:

  • 4 10-inch-long individual baguettes or four 10-inch-long pieces French-bread baguette (cut from 2 baguettes)
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles
  • 16 large fresh cilantro sprigs
Assemble the sandwiches: 
  1. Cut the baguettes in half and then hollow them out so only about  a 1/2 inch of bread is on the circumfrence of the crust. 
  2. Spread the mayo on each side of the baguette halves. It is okay to get wild and spread a lot on there. 
  3. Place the jalapeño slices on the bottom half along with about 4 sprigs of cilantro. (Go easy on the jalapeño if you’re sensitive to spice!) I think some mint might be good here too.
  4. Place a 1/4 of the meatballs on each baguette half. 
  5. Drain the slaw and cover the meatballs with a heafty portion. 
  6. Slap on the other baguette half and enjoy!! 

These make a tasty lunch or summer dinner. I’d recommend serving with some fresh fruit dressed up with a little few mint or basil. 

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White Fluffy Icing

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This icing, which I love on these cupcakes from yesterday, takes a little bit of work, but it is a fun change from run-of-the-mill buttercreams. It is light, and actually doesn’t have any fat in it (although it does have sugar and my nemesis, corn syrup, in the mix).  You’ll also need some slightly special equipment for this; mainly a hand-held electric mixer and a double boiler.

What you need:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 2/3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

What to do: 

  • Set up your double boiler. I don’t have one, technically, so I used a glass bowl that would fit over a medium sauce pan. Here’s what it looked like mid-way in, when I decided I should take a picture for you.
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  • Start the water boiling in the bottom half of the double boiler, while you mix together all of the ingredients except the vanilla in the top bowl. Also make sure your hand-held mixer has a long enough cord to reach the stove. If not, find an extension cord.
  • When the water is boiling, place the icing mixture on top and start mixing with your hand-held electric mixer on high speed. The egg whites will start to cook and become opaque, and the consistency will become thick.
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  • When the mixture is thick enough that when you shut off the mixer and pull it out of the icing, the icing forms peaks, then you’re done.
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  • Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
  • Allow to cool and then spread over a cake of your choice.
Cupcake!

Cupcakes!

Cupcake!.

This is a cupcake version of one of my family’s favorite cakes, the aptly named “Chocolate Cake with White Fluffy Icing”

The name says it all, really. This is a delicious chocolate cake with a whipped marshmallow-y icing on top. There is surprisingly little fat in these delicious creations– just 1/2 cup of oil for over 18 cupcakes, but there is plenty of sugar so I don’t feel comfortable calling them “healthy”. Instead, they are simply “less bad”.

The cake is moist, and has a rich chocolaty flavor. I’m pretty sure the original recipe comes from Hershey and can be found here (where you can also find the recipe for low altitude).

I’m going to post the recipe for the cake here today and the recipe for the icing tomorrow so as not to overwhelm you. This cake would also be tasty with a little whipped cream on top, chocolate buttercream, vanilla buttercream or any of your other favorite icings.

What you need:

  • 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup powdered cocoa
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • Icing

What to do:

  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixer bowl.
  2. Add the eggs (beaten), milk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes at medium speed (or just use a whisk) until all the lumps are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the boiling water and mix again until it is incorporated. You’ll have a very soupy concoction at this point– that’s what you want.
  4. Now pour the batter into 18 lined cupcake tins– fill about 3/4 of the way up– or, into a greased and floured 13″ x 9″ x 2 ” pan.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes for cupcakes (or until a toothpick comes out clean) or 35-40 minutes for a cake.
  6. Allow to cool before frosting.