Friday, August 05, 2011

Red-cooked Pork Belly Banh Mi

At (almost) all hours, I can hear the sound of cars honking their horns, occasional sirens, traffic…the sounds that remind you that you live in the middle of a busy city. This is the symphony that I have slept to for the past five years…the same symphony that little C has learned to sleep to as well. No birds chirping, no fresh breeze, no vegetable garden to tend or wide green spaces where little C can roam.

Am I complaining? Not at all! I love living in the city. I love the hustle and bustle. I love being near everything that I want to be near. I love having a 24-hour pharmacy nearby. I love looking over my teeny-tiny balcony seeing the windows of the flats nearby, wondering at all the stories unfolding in each. I love seeing all the people, rushing here or there, always with purpose. I love knowing, even during those times when I am lazy and just dig myself deeper into the duvet, that it all goes on around me – that quick, unending, untiring heartbeat…the life under the concrete, fed by sweat and aspirations.

I love the energy of cities.

Nevertheless, even the most ardent devotees of the concrete jungle need to escape, even for just a weekend. A change of scenery, even if you are just a short hop away can do wonders for recharging the body, mind, and soul. And if that escape involves good friends, great food, and a lovely setting, well, even better!

So I’ll be off for the weekend, we are packing the little one and all her accouterments into our tiny red car and heading for cooler breezes.

Meanwhile, I leave you with this, a wonderful revival of our left-over red-cooked pork belly. I can’t take credit for the idea though. I came from my friend M who, when I posted this up, mentioned that it would make a great banh mi. Now, don’t get me started on all I ate in Hanoi, or how I hopped on the back of our hotel’s staff’s scooter to get to his banh mi place. I thought it was a genius idea to say the very least. And it was...and how!

A banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich of their local baguette (which has a softer crust than a French baguette) and is traditionally made with pickled vegetables (carrots and daikon), cucumber, chili, cilantro, pate, mayonnaise, and some sort of meat. You can also add a fried egg. Yes, yum.

For this version: I spread one side of the baguette with mayo, piled on some wild rocket, then some homemade pickled cucumber slices I had in the fridge, put the slices of red cooked pork belly over that, topped with some pickled carrot and a generous sprinkling of my latest herb-discovery-turned-obsession…micro cilantro. The result? An absolutely stellar sandwich. I owe M a great debt. Melty sweet/sticky/spicy pork belly, peppery arugula, sharp-tangy pickles, and the distinct flavor of the micro cilantro (it’s like a combination of cilantro the leaf and coriander the seed…amazing I tell you). I would have given this sandwich a standing ovation if I hadn’t been too busy devouring it.

I got the micro cilantro from some lovely purveyors at my neighborhood market (the wild arugula too for that matter). If I can’t grow my own herbs and vegetables at least I know there are some great people putting passion into bringing them to us.

Perhaps someday, I will want that plot of land enough to pack up and look for our little bit of “peace and quiet and open air”, but until then my heart belongs here. And a weekend escape is all I need. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!


Mom-Friday said...

*Drool* I want that sandwich! And I love pork belly too!
I share your dream of having a patch of herb garden ;)

Midge said...

What a magnificent looking sandwich, Joey!

Having grown up in southern suburbia, I know what it's like to have home-grown veg on the table. We still do, as a matter of fact. I also know what it's like to fall asleep to the sound of cicadas in the summer and frogs during the monsoon season.

I doubt if I'll ever really be a REAL city girl, seeing how the madness of the city has been getting to me of late, though.

(Incidentally, if you've the time, you might want to give the Scots bread recipe I just posted a try. :D)

Rinku Naveen said...

Drooling over that sandwich..Looks so tempting and yumm..

ChichaJo said...

Hi Mom-Friday! This is now in my list of favorite sandwiches! To think it’s made from leftovers!

Hi Midge! You are lucky to have your own vegetable patch! It is quite mad in the city isn’t it? I do love the hustle and bustle though :) My next project is getting some sort of herb pot “garden” going in my tiny balcony! I’ll check out the Scots bread :)

Hi Rinku! Glad you like it :)

love cooking said...

One cooking, two dishes. Great idea. Chinese also have "Kou Rou Bao" which is similar to this. But they use "mantou" instead of french bread. :)

Guia Obsum said...

The picture makes the sandwich even more appetizing. I just want to grab it and eat, especially since I've yet to eat breakfast! :)

Shalum said...

This looks good for lunch with iced tea!

Tv Food and Drink said...

That sandwich is BAD-ASS! You just changed my mood for the rest of the day from down and dreary to re-invigorated and HUNGRY!

Never heard of micro-cilantro either, but just did some searches and found a recipe for duck tacos that uses them. Now, I just have to track some down... and go kill a duck. :)


Rob @ said...

You know, I consider myself a half decent cook and I have never had anything come out looking as great as that picture you've got there.

I'm torn between wanting to make that sandwich and wanting to find out what kind of camera you have and where I can get one.

ChichaJo said...

Hi love cooking! Kou Rou Bao sounds like something I would love as well!

Hi Guia! I really enjoyed it...and to think it’s “just” leftovers :)

Hi Shalum! Go for it!

Hi Gary! Thank you! I can imagine the micro cilantro going well with duck tacos :)

Hi Rob! When you caramelize pork belly, and then slow cook it, magic happens! :)

Elizabeth @Mango_Queen said...

What a great way to serve pork belly! I'd love to make this for my family. Thanks for sharing! Like your blog so much...will be back for more!

ChichaJo said...

Thanks Elizabeth! Glad you like it!! :)