Caramelized Pork Banh Mi

Emergence suggests a state of transition, a trajectory of becoming. It is antithetical to structural or static approaches. Santo saw emergence nestled between the Daikon and the baguette of the banh mi sandwich; GastronomyatBU blog.

No one told me. About Stinky Daikon.

Durian……I’ve heard about …..being banned from airports and hotel rooms but never, ever, have I come across a stinky daikon conversation.

One Friday evening, at a small vegetable store I frequent, I happened upon these long, white radishes that I suspected were Daikon. I’d had them on my mind for a very long time, primarily because of a Banh Mi recipe on Food52. All that was missing from the recipe was pickled carrots and radishes. Till that Friday of course. I had the Pork Tenderloin. Access to great French Bread…and tinned/canned pate. Please don’t look away in disgust.

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Open face, and proud: Caramelised Pork Banh Mi

I had the mayo, the cilantro, the chiles. All that was left? The daikon.

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Canned Pate, loving smeared…and at least not stinky

Still, no one said. A. Thing.

I found a few recipes for my basket of daikon radishes.

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Starting with an olive salad, which used the radishes in the raw, nicely diced. Recipe coming up in my N’Awlins (New Orleans) dinner. Terribly enjoyed.

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Olive salad, one day I’ll do a great brunoise of vegetables…till then, this dice would do

The next couple of recipes involved pickling which were a snap to make.

This Tasty Pickled Daikon recipe, from Food52.com was the first to put me in a pickle. I loved the starburst pattern of thinly sliced daikon, set in a golden pickling liquid, beautifully coloured by my friend, Turmeric.

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Daikon stars, sliced on the mandoline

With chiles and spices…..

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Pickling Spices

…. I have no doubt this will be a delightful addition to salads and sandwiches. ThoughI haven’t had a chance to try it yet.

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Pretty in Yellow

But it was the third recipe that had me buying the radishes in the first place. The traditional Vietnamese pickled carrots and radishes.

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Sitting pretty, Smelling badly, Tasting OK!

Do chua, Vietnamese tangy sweet daikon and carrot pickle.

Pickles play an important role at the Vietnamese table. They provide textural and flavor contrasts to food. For example, the flavor of rich foods gets cut (mitigated) by a tart-sweet pickle. At Tet Lunar New Year celebrations, you always see several kinds of pickles on the menu as that’s a holiday where lots of fatty dishes are served.

In banh mi sandwiches, the daikon and carrot offer a crunch that pairs well with the baguette and the tartness offsets the savory rich meats and mayonnaise.

Again, this was a snap to make. One cuts up vegetables, with some precision, prepares them for a soaking, dunks them and leaves them to mature. Grow up. Like a teenage boy. One hopes that the end result will be beautiful flavor. What one doesn’t plan for on a Saturday evening, with a dinner table full of children is pinched noses, and threatening tears even….to rid the dining room of  the ‘stinky vegetable’.

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I heed this call, with speed. I want nothing to wreck havoc on the progress we’ve made as a family with ‘eating our vegetables’. So I hastily grate carrots and cabbage, fresh and daikon-free for the table.

The daikon stinks. I wonder if its gone bad but it hasn’t. It tastes good.

Its much too late to go to the Internet to check if the ‘rotting vegetables garbage-can’ stink is normal. I just eat my canned liver pate-smeared French baguette, stuffed with the most delicious, caramelized pork tenderloin that was a snap to make but full of sweet and complex flavours thanks to the maple syrup, fish sauce and a host of other Asian staples – ginger, garlic, spring onions, sesame oil and soy sauce. This marinade will be a hit in everything – fish, meat, vegetables.

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Best Asian Marinade ever…..

The crowning glory are fresh cilantro, all chopped up with some diced scotch bonnets for balanced heat.

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Tinned pate to the right! Stinky pickled radish front and centre!!

And then I read it all, after the meal. The fact. The literature on Stinky Daikon.

How ‘Daikon is in the cabbage-mustard family that is known to have strong smelling sulfur compounds. The concentration is greatest in the skin, so peeling can reduce the smell as can soaking in salt water. The smell is less noticeable when daikon is eaten raw. Chopping or grating and pickling (acidifying) can increase the smell.’

And how….as I discovered, it can stink the whole house down. Some suggest ‘airing’, leaving the jar open for about 15 minutes. Apparently this will dissipate, diffuse, chase away some of the ‘cat-pee, wet clothes, rotting vegetables’ smell. Sorry to break that bubble, ’cause it won’t. I know. I’ve tried it.

Regardless, the meal was so awesome that I’ve forgiven the Daikon. Totally.

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Remembering only the wonderful time I had pounding my cuts of pork into flattened pieces. And of course devouring the sandwich.

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As y’all know, I love my French. The French and any excuse, be it bread or butter, to get close to them……is not passed up.

I love that they leave a bread legacy wherever they go. Like they did in Vietnam. Which is the result of this fusion sandwich.

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A bread legacy that spans the world from Panama, to New Orleans, Vietnam and France itself. Bread is the stake in the ground, or the bun in the oven they leave behind – a national treasure, their national treasure shared with all the world.

You can’t give what you don’t have, right?

And you use what you have to get what you want, right?

You’ve got me France…..on both. I applaud you.

Vive La France, Vive La Baguette, Vive Le Monde.

Long live France, Long live the Baguette, Long live the World.[wpurp-searchable-recipe]Caramelized Pork Banh Mi – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]

23 Comments

  1. Have you thought about doing a cook book? The large, glossy kind that always looks great on coffee tables, etc.? I’m not terribly adventurous about food, but I really enjoy looking at your food pictures, and having my mouth water while I read about each one. You should seriously consider it! I might not venture out to try the recipes myself, but I’d buy it, anyway for the great writing and lovely pictures.

  2. I’ve never tried my hand at making banh-mi. It’s always been a treat to order when out and about. So much better than a regular ‘ol sandwich! The only daikon I’ve prepared has been raw, not pickled. I usually scrub well and then cut up and have not had an issue with the odor. ( I do know all radishes get stronger in flavor and scent as they mature.) Smelly or not that is one mighty fine looking sandwich!

  3. We have durian here in China. It really does stink a lot. However, unlike the daikon, the flavor (in my opinion) doesn’t justify the stink. Tastes a little like fruity gasoline.

    However there’s something that smells far worse and tastes much better – Stinky Tofu. If you can get over the smell of armpit and rotten feet, the taste is okay. 🙂

    Thanks for your post! The mention of scotch bonnets made me homesick for 9ja.

    • Oh my, what a gorgeous way to describe the taste of durian. I can imagine…… I’ll skip the stinky tofu, thank you very much. I find regular tofu hard to think about, much more eat…..then to progress to the stinky variety. Hmmmm. I’ll put that one o

    • Aah, come back to Naija and I promise you a real meal with scotch bonnets!

      Thanks for the heads up on what Durian tastes like.

      As for Tofu, I’m not a big fan of the regular sort, not to mention the stinky variety – I’ll put that on hold for now. Wink. Wink.

  4. Oh Bahn mi, one of the most brilliant sandwiches of all time. It is up there with a garden fresh BLT, and a nice Cuban. Maybe it’s the pork that I adore? I have never made my own bahn mi so I had no idea that the daikon was so stinky, especially after pickling. Please thank your family for suffering through the experience so that the rest of us are prepared!

    PS. I share your adoration of the French (and their bread). Just today while I was doing dishes I was day dreaming about owning a second home in France.

    • Rhonda, I still havent given up my dream of living in Paris. France. I just didnt want to do it right after living in The Netherlands – I couldnt have survived two back-to-back stints in non-English speaking countries.

      The Bahn mi was truly delicious. The marinade for the pork was phenomenal – we had it with chicken tonight and it touched all the same taste spots.

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