Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Maybe I'm obsessed with the idea of making leftovers delicious because, growing up, just about half of my meals at home were leftovers.  And not necessarily good ones.  There was a lot of day-old chicken and dry pork chops and cold green beans re-steamed in the microwave.  I'm not unhappy that chapter of my life has closed. 

Yesterday, the rain brought out the homemaker in me and I made turkey chili, the same version I made for the Superbowl in January.  To refresh tired memories, that recipe involves ground turkey, poblano peppers, green peppers, corn, tomatillos, kidney beans, onion, and a tomato base.  It's spicy, hearty, and perfect for wet weather.  

But after a day of chili, I was sufficiently bored.  I started thinking about this sandwich I had a few weeks ago at Baoguette.  It was a banh mi made with the filling from a Sloppy Joe.  

Could I do it?  Could I make a knock-off banh mi with leftover chili?  

I had to make pickles first.  My pickles were a sweeter kind that I thought would be closer to the Vietnamese style.  I didn't use daikon, but I did use thin-sliced pickling cucumbers, shredded carrot, sliced hot green peppers, and white onions.  I salted them to draw out the moisture and then rinsed and dried them before putting them in the brine I had boiled and then cooled.  The brine was an apple cider vinegar-base brine, with the addition of kosher salt, cane sugar, allspice berries, cloves, mustard seed, a bay leaf, whole corriander, and water.  Most pickling recipes will tell you that pickles need to sit for days or weeks before they're done.  But with a mild sweet pickle recipe like this one, a few hours is more than sufficient.  

Next, my own version of kewpie mayonnaise.  Kewpie mayonnaise is the Asian condiment of choice and it appears on sandwiches everywhere.  It's mayonnaise with MSG added and it's pretty delicious, but not exactly good for you.  I made my own spread with olive oil-based mayonnaise, sriracha, and a teaspoon or so of fish sauce (a traditional condiment used on banh mi).  

I used whole-wheat baguettes, sliced and toasted, as my banh mi base.  Then the mayonnaise, the pickles, the chili and, finally, fresh-torn cilantro.  The sandwich tasted very much like the banh mis I know and love.  

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