Wild Boar Banh Mi
Vietnamese-French bread is the ideal sandwich bread. When fresh, its thin, golden-crispy crust offers a satisfying crunch that yields to every bite. And unlike traditional French bread, its crumb is tender and airy – not dense – perfect for filling with generous amounts of meat and vegetables, while inviting warm juices and sauces. Delicious stuffed or simply eaten with butter, Laughing Cow spreadable cheese or a few dashes of Maggi sauce – one of my mom’s favorite snacks – there’s nothing like enjoying fresh-from-the-oven bánh mì by itself. You always have to sacrifice a piece while traveling home from the bakery – at least I could never help myself. Now that I’ve made you hungry for this bread, you might be expecting a recipe, and unfortunately, I am going to disappoint.
Vietnamese families don’t typically bake their own bread at home. Visiting the neighborhood bakery while on a grocery run is a part of Vietnamese life. That’s how my family had bánh mì while I was growing up and having made our home in the Little Saigon District of Southern California, good bánh mì wasn’t hard to come by. I’m glad to see more bánh mì shops opening in the metro areas of Nebraska these days. Unless you live in the boonies, I bet there’s a shop near you. Ask for the bread by itself. Bánh mì can be filled with anything.
Vietnam’s signature sandwich includes an assortment of thinly sliced cold cuts, generous amounts of pork liver pâté and full fat mayonnaise – always garnished with plenty of carrot and daikon pickles, and fresh herbs for balance. Making Vietnamese cold cuts isn’t something that I’ve delved into yet, so for this issue’s recipe, I’m mirroring another classic – grilled pork bánh mì. Pork is heavily used in Vietnamese cooking, and luckily, I just recently came into some wild boar meat from Texas. Although leaner and a bit tougher than domestic pork, cook wild boar similarly. The same rules apply: cook to at least 145 degrees to kill trichinosis, brine or marinate when possible for juiciness and tenderness, and don’t overcook the meat unless you’re going to braise it.
I referenced Andrea Nguyen’s Viet World Kitchen blog for her full fat mayonnaise recipe.
Servings: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time: overnight
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
- 1½ pounds of wild boar loin
- 4 bánh mì rolls*
- Sliced cucumber
- Sliced jalapeño
- Small bunch of cilantro
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of Shaoxing rice cooking wine (not vinegar)
- 2 tablespoon of canola oil, plus extra
- 2 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
Pickled Carrot & Daikon (makes extra)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
- Equal amount of daikon radish, peeled and julienned
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons of white sugar
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
Full Fat Mayonnaise (makes 1 generous cup)
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
- 1 cup canola oil
Special equipment: skewers
* If there is no Vietnamese bakery or bánh mì shop near you, substitute with Mexican bolillo rolls.
1. The night before, remove silver skin on wild boar loin and slice thinly against the grain. In a small bowl, combine marinade ingredients and add pork to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours.
2. To make the pickles, sprinkle sea salt and sugar over the julienned carrot and daikon. Submerge with white wine vinegar and stir. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before serving, or refrigerate in a jar until ready to eat. This quick pickle will keep for 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
3. If using wooden skewers, soak in water for 30 minutes prior to grilling. Prepare grill for direct, high-heat cooking.
Meanwhile, make the full fat mayonnaise: Combine egg yolks, salt, lime juice, Dijon mustard and white wine vinegar in a food processor and pulse 4-5 times to combine. Then with the machine running on low, gradually add canola oil in a thin, steady stream and whip until thickened. If your mayonnaise breaks, whip in an extra egg yolk. Keep mayonnaise cold until ready to use.
4. Thread marinated wild boar meat onto skewers and brush with canola oil. Grill on high heat for caramelization all over, flipping halfway through – this shouldn’t take long. Split open slightly toasted bánh mì bread and spread mayonnaise on the inside. Fill with grilled wild boar, cucumber, jalapeño, a few whole sprigs of cilantro and pickled carrot and daikon. Serve immediately.