Friday, June 14, 2013

Salad & Sandwich Summer: Coconut Shrimp & Curried Cauliflower Báhn Mì with Cucumber Lemongrass Salad

Check out this recipe on my new and improved website:

Báhn mì have been trendy in New York City since 2009. Although bao, arepas, and other street food, filling-smooshed-between-starch delicacies have had their moments since then, but the lovely Vietnamese sandwich has not yet been overshadowed. I've never cared much for trends... by the time I catch on they are usually on their way out (like the prairie skirt of 2005). Fortunately, even when food trends go out of style, they are still delicious and nobody will criticize you for enjoying them. In case you're curious, Bon Appetit published this list of food trends for 2013. Keep your eyes open!

This week for Salad & Sandwich Summer I made two types of báhn mì: coconut shrimp and curried cauliflower. I was inspired by Num Pang, a New York restaurant that serves Cambodian sandwiches (which are, naturally, very similar to báhn mì due to geographical proximity). In addition, I put together a Cucumber Lemongrass Salad, a cool, refreshing side dish with homemade dressing.

These sandwiches have a lot of components and may seem overly arduous, but fear not: Each component can be done quickly and in advance. Then they just hang out until you are ready to use them. I'll break the whole meal down in the order that I did everything, from pickled veggies to salad dressing to sandwich assembly. All of these can be made in large quantities and made into a make-your-own-báhn mì buffet. Yummm...

Coconut Shrimp Báhn Mì
Curried Coconut Cauliflower Báhn Mì
Step 1: Pickle the vegetables

Ingredients (yield: 3 cups pickled veggies):
  • 1 daikon radish
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cucumber (Optional: Use if you are not also making the salad. Otherwise it's cucumber overkill!)
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • Peel the veggies and cut off the stem.
  • Using a food processor slicing blade, a mandoline, or your awesome knife skills, slice the vegetables very thin.
  • In a wide bottom dish, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and salt until dissolved.
  • Add the veggies, toss in the vinegar, and let sit. Stir and flip the veggies every 15 minutes or so. Can be made up to 1 day in advance if covered and refrigerated. The longer they sit, the more pickley they are.

Step 2: Prepare the shrimp

Ingredients (yield: 4 sandwiches' worth):
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and julienned
  • 1/2 can coconut milk
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
  • 2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
  • Mix all ingredients together.
  • Add the shrimp, toss in the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Can be made up to 1 day in advance.
  • When it is time to cook (step 6), heat the oil over a medium flame.
  • Discard the jalapeño from the marinade and add the shrimp and marinade to the pan.
  • Cook for about 4 minutes, or until shrimp turn pink. Pour into a bowl and serve with a slotted spoon.

Step 3: Prep the salad and dressing

Salad Ingredients (yield: 3 cups):
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 green onion (green and white part)
  • 1 tbsp fresh mint
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled
  • 1 small stalk lemongrass, cut into inch-long pieces
  • 1/2 lime, peeled
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • Slice the cucumbers thin (I used a food processor) and place in a bowl.
  • Chop the green onion and mint and add to the cucumber.
  • Place all dressing ingredients in a food processor with the normal chopping blade. Pulse until a dressing is formed. With a spatula, push down any dressing that stuck to the sides.
  • Dress the salad, toss, and refrigerate for up to an hour.
  • When you are ready to serve, cut the avocado into small cubes. Toss with the salad and serve.

Step 4: Make the Ginger Sriracha Sauce

Ingredients (yield: 1/2 cup):
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium egg (large works too-- just up the oil a little)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • zest and juice from 1/2 lime
  • 2 tsp sriracha sauce
  • Rinse out the food processor and insert the chopping blade.
  • Place the egg, ginger, lime zest, and garlic (missing from my picture-- last minute add-in) into the processor.
  • Pulse until solids are chopped and incorporated into the egg.
  • Turn on the processor and slowly pour in the oil.
  • Once the egg has mostly emulsified, with the machine still on, squeeze in the lime juice and add the sriracha. Mix for another 5 seconds, pour into a container, and refrigerate. The sauce will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator.

Step 5: Cook the Curry Coconut Cauliflower

Ingredients (yield: 6 sandwiches' worth):
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • salt, pepper, and curry powder
  • Heat a non-stick pan over a medium flame.
  • Add coconut flakes and toast, stirring frequently, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool on a separate plate.
  • Slice head of cauliflower into 1/2 inch steaks. Some will crumble, but you should be able to get a few good disks.
  • Rub each slice with coconut oil and season with salt, pepper, and curry powder (a few shakes of each) on one side.
  • Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in the same non-stick pan. Place the cauliflower steaks in the pan curry side down. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and curry on the top side and cover.
  • Cook over medium heat for 4 minutes, then flip, cover again, and cook for 2 more minutes. The cauliflower should be browned and just soft enough for a fork to go all the way through with a tiny bit of resistance). Remove from the heat, place on a plate, and sprinkle both sides with toasted coconut flakes.

Step 6: Cook the shrimp
See step 2.

Step 7: Finish the salad
See step 3.

Step 8: Assemble the sandwich

Ingredients (yield: 4 sandwiches):
  • 1 Vietnamese baguette (buy or bake your own), divided into 4 pieces and sliced sandwich style
  • Toast the baguette pieces.
  • Laying the bread on the plate in front of you, slather a bunch of Ginger Sriracha Sauce on the inside of each piece.
  • Top with pickled vegetables and some sprigs of cilantro.
  • Add the cauliflower or a few coconut shrimps.
  • Top with toasted coconut, if desired.
  • Gobble down the sandwich and say Cám ơn (thank you) to Southeast Asia.

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