3 hrs 45 mins, plus brining time
Makes:10 to 15 servings as an hors d'oeuvre
Of all the dishes to result from the French influence on the Vietnamese culture, the banh mi sandwich is one of the tastiest. The baguette, mayo, and pork may be borrowed from French cuisine, but the addition of jalapeños and cilantro makes this decidedly Vietnamese fare. Individual servings are often made on a small baguette, but we constructed two baguettes’ worth—enough for your next cocktail party.
1 large English cucumber, halved crosswise and sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
4 jalapeños, sliced lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick pieces
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
Toothpicks, for serving
For the pork:
Pour 2 cups of the simmering water into a 6-quart heatproof container with a tightfitting lid, then remove the remaining water from heat. Add salt and sugar to the heatproof container and stir until dissolved. Add garlic, chiles, peppercorns, and pork. Top with remaining 8 cups of now-tepid water to fully cover the meat. Submerge the meat if necessary by filling a resealable bag with water and placing it on top. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
When the pork is ready, remove from the liquid, rinse, pat dry with paper towels, and place fat side up in a roasting pan. Allow to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Roast pork until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, at least 45 minutes, then slice thinly, about 1/8 inch thick.
For the pickled carrots:
Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once sugar and salt have dissolved, remove from heat, add carrots, and stir to coat in pickling mixture. Let stand until carrots have softened, at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain well and set aside.
Slice off the top 1/3 of the baguettes lengthwise and set aside. Remove enough of the bottom interiors so that the filling can fit easily.
Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on each baguette’s upper 1/3 and 2 tablespoons on each bottom. Crumble half of the pâté (if using) on each bottom section, then top with sliced pork (there may be some left over), cucumber, cilantro leaves, pickled carrots, and jalapeños. Sprinkle each sandwich with soy sauce and close with the upper parts of the baguettes. Place 10 toothpicks approximately 1 inch apart to secure the sandwiches and slice into about 10 (1-1/2-inch) pieces. Serve.
Beverage pairing:Tiger Beer, Singapore. Banh mi are wonderful street food and could be washed down by any number of beverages. But a light lager such as Tiger from Singapore—which is found all over Vietnam—is a good choice. Its thirst-quenching rush of bubbles will refresh the palate and salve the heat (if you put a lot of chile on the bun).