As it often happens with my favorite foods, bánh mì isn't readily available where I live. It's not that I'm crazy picky, it has more to do with the fact that Naples is a pretty mainstream town where ethnic options aren't always plentiful and exciting.
If you ask me, the bánh mì -a Vietnamese sandwich of crunchy baguette, rich pate', spicy pork and refreshing veggies- is possibly one of the best sandwiches in the world, along with the Cuban, the Italian prosciutto di Parma with fresh mozzarella and tomatoes and grilled ham and cheese. After reading a couple of articles about it in cooking magazines such as Cooking Light and Bon Appetit I decided to take the matter in my hands and make it home. It was a hit and it's fairly simple to make once you buy a couple of ingredients from your local Asian market.
Makes 4 sandwiches
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated peeled daikon radish
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
Thin cucumber slices
Fresh cilantro sprigs
2 thinly sliced green onions
1 thinly sliced jalapeño pepper
Combine carrot, radish, vinegar, brown sugar and salt to taste, cover and let stand at least 15 minutes. Drain.
Preheat oven to 400°. Mix chili garlic sauce and 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, stir well. Sprinkle the pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt and baste with 2 tablespoons of the chili garlic sauce mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.
Combine mayonnaise and remaining chili garlic sauce mixture.
Cut each baguette horizontally, cutting to, but not through, the other side. Spread mayonnaise mixture inside baguettes. Thinly slice pork; divide pork between baguettes. Top with carrot mixture. Arrange cucumber slices and cilantro sprigs on each baguette. Top with onions and jalapeño. Press top gently to close; cut each baguette into 4 equal servings and press in panini press if desired.