Mention Vietnamese street food and I immediately think of pork banh mi. The ultimate sandwich. A freshly baked crusty baguette roll filled to bursting with roast pork and pate and generous handfuls of carefully chosen accompaniments; pickled carrot, cucumber ribbons, soft lettuce leaves, fresh herbs, chilli and mayonnaise. I first encountered banh mi in Hanoi fifteen years ago and immediately fell in love with this very simple, clever fusion of colonial French cultural influences on traditional Vietnamese cuisine. Each delicious mouthful satisfying, moreish and completely addictive.
These holidays to satisfy my cravings, I reintroduced my children to the delights of banh mi, driving across town to inner city Enmore to visit Great Aunty Three. An authentic Vietnamese street food cafe,with a huge foodie following, tucked away on the corner of Enmore Road and Phillip Street; right across the road from a familiar but enduring landmark from way back when, The Enmore Theatre. We most definitely were not disappointed. With my family of new converts happily in tow, we also discovered a new outpost of Great Aunty Three has very recently opened closer to home in Wentworth St in Surry Hills.
Inspired by Great Aunty Three and an enduring love for slow roasted pork belly and crackling, I served up home made banh mi for dinner last night. A very lazy way to feed an appreciative crowd on a balmy summer’s night. The pork belly, cooked to perfection using this tried and true recipe, virtually looked after itself in the oven. A quick trip to the bakery for fresh baguettes, and the grocer for the pate and salad accoutrements, I was done and dinner was quickly and effortlessly served. Of course easier still would be to serve chicken bahn mi (another popular menu item), simply by picking up a couple of rotisseried or barbecued chooks from the chicken shop up the road.
Pork Belly Banh Mi With Crackling
1kg piece boneless pork belly, roasted (recipe here)
6 large crusty white long baguette style rolls, halved lengthwise
60g chicken liver pate
6 large soft butter lettuce leaves
2 Lebanese cucumbers, spiralised or peeled into ribbons
1 cup coriander sprigs
1/2 cup mint leaves
2 carrots, spiralised or peeled into ribbons
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup whole egg mayonnaise
3 long green spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 long red chilli, finely sliced on the diagonal
fish sauce, to season
PREPARE pickled carrots. Place vinegar, sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve sugar and remove from heat. Place peeled or spiralised carrot in a bowl and pour over vinegar. Leave to stand for an hour, strain through a sieve and refrigerate, covered, until required.
PREPARE spicy mayonnaise by combining whole egg mayonnaise, spring onions and chilli in a small bowl. Season with a little fish sauce. Cover and refrigerate until required.
SEPARATE crackle from roasted pork belly. Shred meat and using a sharp knife slice crackle into shards. Set side.
SPREAD pate over one side of each split roll. Spread the other side with spicy mayonnaise.
DIVIDE shredded pork and crackle evenly among the rolls.
ADD lettuce, pickled carrots, cucumber, mint and coriander. Serve.