I love my job. I really, really do. But most days are a Tasmanian devil-like whirling dervish of recipe testing and photographing, and usually what we wind up eating for dinner was left over from some show or had just been photographed for a magazine. Ironically as a food writer, I don’t often work with ingredients when they’re actually in season on account of the lead time. On Canada day this past July I was making gingerbread and mince tarts. Today I was working on Valentine’s day stuff.
Some days I just want to make dinner with no ulterior motives. Today I was working on a cocktail party story that involves meatballs, and so I took the opportunity to take a little detour and make pork meatball bánh mì – Vietnamese subs – that I’ve been wanting to try for about a year now. The recipe looks long but they’re simple to make – and in fact they could potentially be made ahead – the meatball part, anyway – which can be frozen for future sandwiches. I imagine some sort of miniature version would be pretty fab for a cocktail party. I may start packing them to take to lunch at my desk upstairs.
I skipped the spicy mayo, opting instead to spread on real mayo and add sriracha according to each taste. (I’ve a wimpier palate than Mike.) The baguette was pretty delicious, but a tad tough on the teeth; I may go for a softer roll next time. Or maybe not – I liked the chew, too. And it wasn’t too crumby; ideal for at-your-desk eating over a keyboard.
The meatballs made with fish sauce, garlic and fresh basil were divine. Totally. When our sandwiches were done I found myself nibbling at the meatballs, topped with a wad of pickled carrots. There must be salad potential here too. So yum.
Pork Meatball Bánh Mì
Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 2010
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1-2 green onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. sriracha or other hot chile sauce (or to taste)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
salt & pepper
2 cups coarsely grated carrots
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
4 10″ individual baguettes or four chunks of baguette
thinly sliced cucumber (use a vegetable peeler)
In a bowl, mix together the pork, basil, garlic, onions, fish sauce, sriracha, sugar and salt and pepper and mix it all up with your hands. Roll into 1″ balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400F for 20 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile, toss the grated carrot with the rice vinegar and sugar in a small bowl. Let sit until you’re ready to assemble your sandwiches.
To assemble, spread baguettes with mayo; top with a squirt of sriracha to taste, and stuff with pickled carrots, cucumber strips, meatballs and sprigs of fresh cilantro. Serves 4.