My happy place is under a beach umbrella on Ang Bang Beach near Hoi An, Vietnam. The sand is soft and white and the water is warm. Locals rent out lounge chairs complete with umbrella and deliver cold drinks and homemade food straight to you from their own fridges and kitchens.
So far in my travels, I have been to Hanoi once and Hoi An twice. Each and everytime I soak up the sun and happily gorge myself on the local food: cau lao, pho, lemongrass pork, La Rue beer and bread. Oh my God! THE BREAD!!! A remembrance of the French colonization, the Vietnamese have taken on the baguette and done wonderful things with it. It’s soft, chewy and often filled with delicious treats, including something else they treat very well – pork. The Vietnamese do pork beautifully: Crispy pork on rice noodles, grilled with lemongrass, fried spring rolls stuffed with pork or even layered in a sandwich.
This Pork Banh Mi is inspired by the flavors of Vietnam. Juicy pork marinated in ginger, garlic, shallots and various sauces then grilled to perfection and stuffed into a soft and chewy baguette. Topped with sliced cucumber, tomato, lettuce and your favorite condiments and you’ve got yourself one hell of a sandwich that might make you consider a trip to Vietnam.
Combine shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, sweet chili sauce and vegetable oil together and puree until smooth.
Mix marinade with pork and let sit in the fridge for 8 hours to overnight.
When ready to cook, remove pork from the refrigerator and let warm to room temperature.
Once at room temperature grill over medium high heat until pork is cooked through and internal temperature has reached 145F/63C. If a grill is not available, then you can place in under the broiler for 10-15 minutes. Be watchful when cooking with pork as it has a tendency to quickly dry out if overcooked.
When pork is fully cooked, remove from heat and let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting it into strips.
Cut baguette in half lengthwise.
Spread fresh herb pesto on bottom half
Top with sliced cucumber and tomato.
Place sliced pork strips atop of sliced cucumber and tomato
Drizzle with mayonnaise and sriracha (optional)
Top with a few leaves of lettuce
Place top half of baguette on top and secure in place with toothpicks.
Cut into individual sandwiches and serve. This should make 4-6 sandwiches. Goes great with salad or sweet potato wedges.