Banh mi, sub-style Vietnamese sandwiches explode with sweet, sour, hot and salty flavors balanced in perfect harmony inside a just-baked baguette.
Each element, whether cooked or salad-like raw, weaves a seductive contrast. A marriage of French and Vietnamese components, banh mi showcases side-by-side culinary fusion.
Traditionally, the meat filling can be anything from stacks of paper-thin cold cuts to soy-cooked chicken, from duck-liver pâtè to Chinese-style barbecued pork.
At Slapfish in Huntington Beach, executive chef/co-owner Andrew Gruel concocts a twist on conventional banh mi. He substitutes yellowtail for meat, and creates an irresistible sweet-sour-spicy pan sauce as the fish completes its cooking.
Loads of crisp, quickly-pickled vegetables and herbs add crunch and color; vinegar splashed carrots, jicama, radishes, cilantro and jalapenos make the sandwich pleasantly salad-like.
See how easily Gruel prepares this delicious treat in this short video!
The Slapfish menu has been reviewed by a team of experts and scientists in conservation and marine biology at the Aquarium of the Pacific’s sustainable seafood program, Seafood for the Future. Chef Gruel says that his banh mi is available upon request, and may eventually become part of his regular menu.
The three Slapfish food trucks had legions of devoted followers. The trucks were retired last year when the brick-and-mortar “modern seafood shack” Slapfish location opened.
Slapfish’s Yellowtail Banh Mi
Yield: 2 sandwiches
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
10 ounces yellowtail cut into large pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup carrot cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup jicama cut into matchsticks
1/4 cup fresh jalapeno, seeded, cut into thin lengthwise strips
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra sprigs for optional garnish
2 small red radishes, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 large baguette, see cook’s notes
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
Cook’s notes: Use a baguette that is as fresh as possible. Many banh mi shops in Orange County sell freshly-baked baguettes and are a good source
1. For yellowtail: Heat the grapeseed oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Once the oil is shimmering (not smoking) add the yellowtail. Season with salt and pepper. Flip the yellowtail after it is slightly browned on one side and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the ingredients for the sauce and bring to a low simmer. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer for about 5 minutes.
2. For veggie mixture: In a bowl, toss carrot, jicama, jalapeno, radish and cilantro leaves with the vinegar. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Set aside.
3. To finish: Cut baguette into 2 pieces. If the bread is incredibly fresh, serve as is, if not, toast in the oven for 1 minute or until soft and slightly toasted. Use your hands to break bread almost in half, leaving the bottom portion attached, so that there is space to add filling. Spread a light layer of mayonnaise onto the bread. Pack the veggies into the bottom of the roll. Top with the fish (leave sauce in the pan). Drizzle hot sauce over sandwiches right before eating. If desired, garnish with cilantro sprigs.
Source: Andrew Gruel, executive chef/co-owner Slapfish, Huntington Beach
Here’s a quick tip from Melissa’s …
Nectarine Salsa is scrumptious spooned over grilled poultry, fish or grains.
And nectarines have been especially luscious this summer.
Here’s the recipe!
Nectarine, Mango and Black Bean Salsa
Yield: 6 servings
1 ripe nectarine, pitted, diced
1 mango, pitted, diced
1 medium-sized jalapeno chile, seeded, veined removed, minced, see cook’s notes
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, diced
1/2 hothouse cucumber, peeled, diced
1 cup canned black beans, drained in sieve, rinsed with cold water
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) to taste
Cook’s notes: Use caution when working with fresh chiles. Upon completion, wash hands and work area thoroughly; do NOT touch eyes or face.
1. In nonreactive bowl, such as glass or ceramic, combine all ingredients. Gently toss with a rubber spatula. Allow to rest 30 minutes at room temperature. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Spoon over grilled chicken, fish, pork or tofu. Or serve with toasted pita chips to use as dippers (see p. Roasted Vegetable Dip with Pita Chips, p. xx).
Nutritional information (per serving): calories 90; fat calories 5, total fat 0 grams; sat fat 0 grams, cholesterol 0 milligrams; sodium 200 milligrams; total carbohydrates 19 grams; fiber 4 grams; sugars 10 grams; protein 3 grams; vitamin A IUs 20%; vitamin C 70%; calcium 2%; iron 4%.
Source: “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chronicle, $29.95)