A few days ago, while wondering what the heck we were going to eat for dinner, I had a moment of inspiration and made a quick version of a banh mi sandwich. I took a chunk leftover baguette, smeared it lime juice-spiked mayonnaise, and layered on cilantro, pickled carrots and jicama, and chunks of roasted chicken. (The latter leftover from the great huazontle disaster.) I placed it on a plate and served it with leftover quinoa, drizzled in a miso-honey glaze.
Crayton looked at it. “What’s this?”
“Banh mi!” I said, supremely proud of myself.
Of course the real banh mi is made with liver pate. Or, as Andrea Nguyen describes in her cookbook Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (a must-have, if you’re into Vietnamese food), it’s made with nearly any “boldly flavored” meat, such as five-spice pork or garlic-roasted chicken.
My chicken was plain, but the thing still tasted great. The mayo mingled with the French bread, which mingled with the cilantro and pickled carrots, creating this sweet-savory mess that you just wanted to bury your face in. I wanted to make them again the next day, but we were out of bread. So I got out my package of tortillas from the fridge.
I half-burned one on the gas flame, and then added the chicken, two heaping spoonfuls of pickled carrot and jicama, a handful of cilantro, and a dab of sriracha. The result was just about as good as the sandwich — except with less bread, I had direct contact with the hot sauce, which made my tongue swell up. I love it when that happens.
Really, the secret here is the pickled veggies, which add just the right note of tangy-sweetness. Alice gave me this bunch, but I can’t wait to make them on my own. They’re my new fridge staple.
Banh Mi Tacos
4 corn tortillas
1/2 cup pickled carrots and jicama (the NYT has a great recipe here; just swap out the daikon for jicama)
Two to three pieces leftover roasted chicken, or boldly flavored meat of your choice, cut into chunks
1 handful cilantro
Heat up your corn tortillas on a comal or gas flame. (Or, if you don’t have either of those, wrap them in paper towels or a dish towel, and stick them in the microwave.) Zap your chicken in the microwave for 10 seconds, just to warm it slightly, and add it to your tortillas. Top with at least two tablespoons of pickled carrots and jicama, and add cilantro and a dollop of sriracha. (Note on the latter: A little goes a long way.)
For the miso-honey quinoa: For 1 cup of cooked quinoa, cooked according to the package directions — In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of brown miso paste in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of walnut oil. Add honey (I used agave because it was all I had on hand), and soy or worcestershire sauce to taste. I also added a splash of Chinese cooking wine for depth. Drizzle this mixture over your quinoa, and stir to blend.