Thursday, September 15, 2016

August Supper Club - Vietnamese Dinner

For our August dinner, we got together at Kim's house for Vietnamese Food.  It was a small group this time, just Kim, Lauren and Katharina, but we made some delicious food.

Banh Mi pickles and sauces.  We used bolillos for the bread.

Lauren made a roasted squash soup
See for the recipe. I used lemongrass instead of the lime leaves.

 Katharina made a chicken salad

 Kim made Caramel Sauce Pulled Pork filling for Banh Mi, Pickled Daikon and Carrots, Pickled Shallots, Pickled Cabbage and Spicy Hoisin Sauce.  All recipes are from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen

Caramel Sauce Pulled Pork

2 lbs (900g) boneless pork shoulder
1 1/4 cups (5oz/150g) coarsely chopped yellow onion
3/4 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp + 1/3 cup (2.3oz/70g) sugar
3 1/2 tbsp fish sauce
2 or 3 drops distilled white vinegar or lemon or lime juice (optional, for preventing crystallization)

1. Cut the pork into chunky pieces, each about half the size of your hand in length and width, and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Put into a bowl.  In a mini or full-size food processor, puree the onion with the pepper, 1 tbsp of sugar and 1 1/2 tbsp fish of the fish sauce.  Pour over the pork an turn to coat well.  Cover and marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature.

2. Meanwhile, make the caramel sauce.  Select a 3- to 4-quart saucepan with a  light-colored interior (to easily monitor the caramelization).  Put 2 tbsp of water in the pan along with the remaining 1/3 cup (70g) sugar and the vinegar, if using.  Heat over medium heat, stirring with a metal spoon or rubber spatula, until nearly dissolved, about 1 minute.  Stop sitrring and let the sugar cook.  

When the sugar is champagne yellow, about about 4 minutes, pay attention.  Swirl the pan to control the caramelization process.  Faint smoke should rise in about 1 minute.  Keep swirling for another minute or so to coax out a dark tea color.

Turn off the heat and let the sugar continue caramelizing over the burner's residual heat for about 3 minutes, until it's the hue of pinot noir; this caramel is dark.  Add 1 cup (240ml) of water; the sugar will seize up.  Set aside.

3. Prepare a hot charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to high.  Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and sear each piece on all sides, turning as needed, for about 8 minutes total.  A few charred edges adn grill marks are good.  Or, put the meat on a foil-lined  baking sheet and broil as close to the heat as possible for 4-5 minutes per side, until tinged with brown and a bit charred  (this is what I did when I made this dish).

4. Heat the pan with the caramel sauce over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the seared pork, any cooking juices, the reserved marinade, and the remaining 2 tbsp. fish sauce.  As needed, add water to almost cover.  Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 45 minutes.

5. Uncover and adjust the heat to vigorously simmer.  Cook for 25 minutes, or until the meat is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.  A generous amount of sauce should remain.

6. Remove from the heat and cool for 15 minutes.  Transfer meat to a skillet, reserving the cooking liquid to flavor the bread and pork.  Use a potato masher and maybe your fingers to break the meat into pieces; discard lingering fat or gristle.

7. If using the pork right away, add about 1/3 cup (90ml) of the cooking liquid to the skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has been absorbed.  

8. This intensifies the pork's flavor, readying it for sandwiches  When preparing in advance, refrigerate the pork and cooking liquid in separate containers for up to 3 days.  Reheat and flavor the meat before using

Note: To build your banh mi, moisten the bottom portion of bread with cooking liquid.  Spread any of the mayos on the top portion of the bread and drizzle Maggi or more cooking liquid.  Add the pork and all the fixings.  

Homemade Mayonnaise

Makes 1 generous cup

1 large egg, near or at room temperature
1/4 plus 1/8 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tsp water
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 cup (240ml) canola oil (I used avocado oil)

Put the egg, salt, mustard, water and lemon juice in the food processor's work bowl.  Start the processor and after a creamy yellow mixture forms, 5-10 seconds, start pouring the oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream as thin as angel hair pasta.  Midway through, after things thicken, pour a thicker stream, as wide as spaghetti.  

After about 2 minutes, all the oil should be incorporated and the mayo should be cream & spreadable. If needed, adjust with extra salt (savoriness) or lemon juice (tang), pulsing the machine to blend well.

Transfer to an airtight container.  Before using, wait for 30 minutes to meld flavors and firm up.  Keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Garlic Yogurt Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

1 clove garlic, minced and mashed or put through a press
Scant 1/4 tsp sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup (90ml) mayonnaise, homemade or store bought
2/3 cup (150ml) low-fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp chopped culantro

In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients to combine well.  Cover and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour to develop flavor, or refrigerate for up to 2 days.  Taste and adjust flavor with salt or sugar before using.  Enjoy slightly chilled or at room temperature

Spicy Hoisin Sauce

Makes 1 cup

6 tbsp (90ml) Thai sweet chile sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
2 tbsp regular soy sauce

Whisk together all ingredients in a bowl.  Taste and, if needed, fine tune with additional vinegar to offset the sweetness of the chile sauce.  Aim for a tangy-sweet-salty flavor.  Refrigerate for up to a month.

Daikon and Carrot pickle

Makes about 3 cups

1 medium daikon, about 1 pound (450g)
1 large carrot, about 6oz (180g)
1 tsp sale, fine sea salt preferred
2 tsp plus 1/2 cup (3.5oz/105g) sugar
1 1/4 cups (300ml) distilled white vinegar
1 cup (240ml) lukewarm water

Peel and cut the daikon into sticks about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick, the width of an average chopstick.  Peel and cut the carrot to match the size of the daikon sticks, but slightly skinnier.  Put the vegetables in a bowl.  Toss with the salt and 2 teaspoons of the sugar.  Massage and knead the vegetables for 3 minutes, or until you can bend a piece of daikon and the tips touch without breaking.  They will have lost about a quarter of their original volume.

Flush with running water, then drain in a mesh strainer or colander.  Press or shake to expel excess water.  Transfer to a 4-cup jar.

For the brine, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the vinegar and water until dissolved.  Pour into the jar to cover well.  Discard any excess brine.  Use after 1 hour or refrigerate for up to a month.

 Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickle

Makes about 3 cups

3 1/2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 1/4 tsp. salt, fine sea salt preferred
1/4 cup firmly packed (2oz/60g) light or dark brown sugar
2/3 cup (150ml) water
3/4 cup (180ml) distilled white vinegar
2 strips lemon or lime peel, each about the width and length of your smallest finger.
Put the cabbage into a 4-cup jar, packing it in as needed.  In a saucepan, bring the salt, sugar, water and vinegar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the solids.  Remove from the heat, wati for the bubbling to subside, then pour into the jar.  Tuck in the citrus peel.  As the cabbage softens, use a spoon to push it down to immerse it all in brine.

Leave at room temperature, uncovered, to wilt the cabbage and cool.  It's ready to use once cooled, but will develop more of a citrus edge if capped and refrigerated overnight.  Store in the fridge for up to 2 months.

Pickled Shallot

Makes about 2 cups

8 ounces (225g) large shallots or 1 medium red onion
1/2 tsp salt, fine sea salt preferred
Scant 6 tbsp (2.5oz/75g) sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) water
2/3 cup (150ml) distilled white vinegar

Cut off the stem and root ends of each shallot.  Halve them lengthwise, then peel off teh skin and any dry looking layers to reveal a smooth, glossy surface.  Cut each half lengthwise to yield wedges, about 1/3-inch at the widest part.  To reduce harshness, put the shallot in a bowl with water to cover for 5 - 10 minutes.  Drain well, then pack into a 2 cup jar.  Do your best to fit it all in.

Combine the salt, sugar, water, and vinegar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat.  Once the boiling subsides, pour the brine into the jar.  Gently push the shallot down with chopsticks or a spoon to submerge.  Let sit, uncovered, until totally cooled.

Though the shallot can be eaten once cooled, it will mellow and taste better if capped and left to mature overnight in the refrigerator.  Keep refrigerated for as long as a month.

Banh Mi and Chicken Salad

 Lauren made dessert