Recently, a friend of ours had a birthday party where he requested that each guest bring his/her favorite food from childhood. For me, that was banh mi sandwiches (Vietnamese sandwiches); I had a pretty advanced palate even as a child (but seriously, I would remove the cilantro and vegetables).
At $3 per sandwich, that was our fast food. We only got them on weekends when my parents did the weekly grocery shopping in Chinatown and were too tired and busy running around to think about lunch. The best ones came from a small cart that was parked (illegally) in the entryway of a small mall and made up of cold cuts, but since the cold cuts are hard to find, here’s a version with steak.
Steak Banh Mi (Vietnamese Sandwiches), serves 4 for supper
1 pound of beef sirloin, sliced into 1/8-inch strips
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons finely minced shallot
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Half of a lime
1-2 Thai red chilis, chopped (optional)
Pickled Carrots and Daikon
3-4 carrots, julienned
1 medium-sized daikon, julienned
4 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup warm water
1 Thai red chili pepper (optional)
1 Large baguette
(This is breaking the rules a bit, but soaks in the juices without getting soggy.)
A small bunch of fresh cilantro, washed
Half of an English cucumber, sliced into spears
(Mayonnaise can be tricky so I followed this recipe here and it was perfect.)
Place the carrots and daikon into a colander, massage in 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar. You want to draw enough water out so that you can touch either ends of the daikon without it snapping it. Meanwhile, mix the remaining sugar and salt into the warm water to dissolve and then add a cup of vinegar to the mixture. Rinse the carrots and daikon under cold water and stuff into glass jars. Pour over the vinegar mixture and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
Combine all of the steak ingredients into a plastic bag and marinate for at least half an hour at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. If you marinated it overnight, allow it to come to room temperature before grilling. When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches; get everything into the sandwiches; then heat the grill to medium-high heat and sear the slices of steak. As the pieces of steak finish, transfer immediately over to the sandwiches to not lose any juices.