A Trip to Hanoi Inspires Bánh Mì Crostini and Vietnamese Pâté

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Banh mi Crostini

The formula for a perfect banh mi is a balance and contrast of tastes, textures and temperatures: the sweetness of the meat, the tanginess of the pickles and the spiciness of the chilies. This Banh Mi crostini is a twist to the tradition and a winning dish to share with some friends and beers. Plus it sure does look great on the dinning table.

Daikon, Carrot and Chiles Pickle

You can make this ahead of time

Ingredients

2 large carrot, peeled and cut into skinny matchsticks

1 daikon (white radish), cut into skinny matchsticks

3 red chiles, thinly sliced at angle. (Include all the seeds as well)*

2 green chiles, thinly sliced at angle. (Include all the seeds as well)*

6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

3 tablespoon salt

1 cup sugar

3 cup distilled white vinegar

* Use can use less or more chiles according to your own preference.

 Method

Place the carrot and daikons in a bowl and sprinkle with 3 tablespoons salt. Toss together and let it sit for 10 mins. They will soften and liquid will pool at the bottom of the bowl. With a colander, rinse the vegetable a few times to get rid of the salt. (Have a taste, what you are looking for is to have the vegetable retain a little saltiness) Use your hands to knead the vegetables, expelling the water from them. The vegetables should have lost about one-third of their volume. Return the vegetables to the bowl. 

To make the brine, in a bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients together and pour over the vegetables. The brine should cover the vegetables. Let the vegetables marinate in the brine for at least 1 hour before eating. If you wish to store longer, transfer to a jar and keep refrigerated up to 4 weeks.

Chicken Liver and Pork Pâté

Serves 8

Ingredients

200g chicken livers

100g butter, softened

300g minced pork

3 shallots, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoon brandy or Cognac

4 tablespoon pouring cream

1½ teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon fish sauce (according to taste but more on the salty side)

½ teaspoon white pepper

Method

Clean the livers then add a tablespoon of salt, leaving it to marinate for 5 minutes then rinse it a few times with cold water. Dry well with paper towels.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large frypan over medium heat. Add the livers and fry for 2-3 minutes, until brown on the outside but still pink on the inside. Remove from the pan and set aside.

 Next, add 1 tablespoon of butter to the same pan and the pork mince, stir fry for about 2 minutes and add the sugar and fish sauce. Cook until meat is cook through and the juices at the bottom of the pan evaporated. Remove pork from the pan and place with the livers.

Wipe the pan with some kitchen paper and over medium heat add 1 tablespoon of butter and fry the shallots and garlic for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened and lightly caramelized. Increase the heat and return the lives and pork to the pan. Stir together for half a minute and pour in the Cognac at once. Tilt the pan towards the flame to ignite or if you are using an electric stove, light with a match. Let the alcohol to bubble away for 1-2 minutes.

Finally, place the liver mixture, together with the remaining butter and cream, into a food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon into a cling wrap lined loaf pan, level the top with the back of your spoon and refrigerate overnight until set. If you are keeping the pâté for longer, spoon melted butter to cover the top before refrigerating.

To unmold the pâté, warm the sides and bottom of the loaf tin over flame or let it sit in a bowl of hot water. Turn over onto a plate and tap slightly on the bottom of the tin to release the pâté. Unwrap the cling wrap and cut into think slices.

Putting the Banh Mi crostini together

Ingredients

2 baguettes, sliced at an angle

2 cucumber, thinly sliced at an angle

A bunch of cilantro

Chicken liver and pork pâté

Daikon, carrot and chiles pickle

1 clove, cut half to rub the surface on the bread

 Grill the sliced baguette on a grill pan until is crispy. Rub the garlic on the hot slices. This imparts a mild garlic flavor with having the garlic taste hit you in the face. 

Line a few slices of the toast on a platter, place the slice cucumber, add a slice of the pâté and top with a tablespoon of pickle. Scatter the cilantro leaves on top.

Place the pickle on a serving bowl, serve the remaining cucumber, pâté, toast, and cilantro onto the platter and let your friends make their own on the dinner table. 

 If you have leftovers, serve them up in a traditional Banh Mi sandwich for tomorrow's work lunch.

 - till next post, ss. 

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