Bunless Banh Mi

Makes 4 servings

For the carrot radish salad:

3-4 medium carrots, julienned
1 cup daikon radish, julienned 5-7 radishes, sliced
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp mirin (optional)

For the pork:

4 pork chops (or an equivalent amount of pork loin) 1 lb pork loin or pork butt
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup gf soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tbsp sriracha
1/2 cup hoisin sauce (Dynasty makes theirs gluten free)
2 tsp fish sauce

For serving:

2 cups white rice, uncooked
1/4 1/3 cup plain yogurt
1-2 Tbsp sriracha
(added) cabbage leaves
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced

Fresh cilantro, to taste

  • Start by preparing the carrot and radish salad. Add the julienned carrots and radishes to a large bowl and toss in the sugar, salt, vinegar, and sesame oil. Stir until the vegetables are evenly coated, cover the bowl, and set aside for at least 1 hour. For a stronger flavor, prep the day before and let it marinate in the fridge overnight.
  • Put the pork in a slow cooker, along with the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, and stock – make sure that the liquid is enough to just cover the meat – and turn the slow cooker to High for 4 hours or Low for 7-8.
  • With about half an hour until you are ready to serve, cook the rice, either in a rice cooker or on the stove.
  • Use 2 forks to shred the pork. Once it’s all pulled apart, add the drained pork to a dry cast iron skillet over medium heat and let the liquid cook off. Then, add the hoisin sauce, sriracha, and fish sauce, stirring to coat the meat evenly, and let cook until meat is browned and crispy in places (about 6-8 minutes).
  • In a small bowl, mix together the yogurt and sriracha. To serve, peel off cabbage leaves and place them on plates. Add a small spoonful of rice and pork to the inside of each leaf. Add a helping of the carrot and radish salad, sliced serrano pepper and cilantro, and drizzle the sriracha-yogurt sauce over the top.

Bunless banh mi has been one of our staple recipes, one of the dishes that we cook at least once a month a good weeknight dinner or that we serve when we have guests over. It’s pretty to look at, easy to make, healthy, and filling, and it can easily be cooked up to make leftovers for a few days afterward. It’s a great meal to make for guests because most of it can be made well ahead of time, and when it’s nearly time to eat, just pull the meat out of the slow cooker, shred it, and fry it up really quickly in a pan.

We’ve made a few changes to this version. We had used mirin in the original version, but I can count the number of times we’ve had mirin in the house on one hand. And the pickled vegetables really don’t need it. We also tend to use pork loin or pork butt rather than pork chops, but really any pork product would work. Lastly, we realized that cabbage (either green or purple) makes a great addition to the dish. It’s another mild, crunchy vegetable that goes well with the spicy, complex flavors and textures in the rest of the recipe.

I was never a huge fan of sandwiches growing up. Particularly sandwiches on your average store bought sandwich bread – soft insides surrounded by soft, brown bread was never too appealing to me. Sandwiches on a baguette or some other kind of crustier, harder roll, on the other hand, I think are God’s gift to sandwiches.

Having been gluten free for over five years now (!), I sometimes indulge in the special treat of buying a gluten free baguette or roll for sandwich-making. My favorite that I’ve found so far is made by Against the Grain. However, gluten free bread can be expensive, and as I haven’t found a way to suitably market Murphy’s bug-eating abilities yet, our budget just doesn’t allow for treats like gluten free baguettes all that often. So there are certain sandwich recipes that must either become special treats as well, or get adapted so that we can enjoy them more often.

Bahn mi b

Banh mi is the name that often gets applied to a popular Vietnamese sandwich recipe, the result of French colonial influences on Vietnamese cuisine. It usually consists of a French-style baguette stuffed with meat (often pork belly or smashed up pork meatballs), head cheese and/or pate, and fresh or lightly pickled vegetables such as carrot, cucumbers, and hot pepper. I had long loved the idea of this sandwich (well, maybe not the head cheese part of it), and wanted to make it into a dinner that was not only cheaper, but also one of those convenient weeknight dinners that makes a lot of leftovers. Now, Bunless Banh Mi is a staple in our kitchen (translator’s note: “banh mi” is actually Vietnamese for “bread.” So my version literally means something like “breadless bread”).

I really love this dinner. Especially when we haven’t made it for a little while, I always need to take a moment after the first bite to marvel at what a great dish it is. The meat is super flavorful after hanging out in the slow cooker for so long, and the texture is wonderfully complex, especially if you can get the sauce to char a little bit on the pork. The carrot and daikon salad adds freshness and crunch, and the yogurt and sriracha sauce complements the flavors in the rest of the dish.

Bahn mi d