Tag Archives: Pickles

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Today continues my themed week on the blog of turning classic dishes into dinner salads, it’s been so much fun for me! I hope y’all have enjoyed it too. What’s next? A banh mi. Oh yes.

Read up on the origins of a banh mi here, where I posted the original, which is a sandwich. And one of the best sandwiches on planet earth, I might add. I never had one until my early thirties, but it’s pretty much one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. So last summer I purchased Mark Bittman’s The VB6 Cookbook, and upon flipping through it I came upon an entry entitled “Banh Mi Meatball Salad.” Oh, I cannot tell you how excited I then became, and somehow it’s taken me this many months to actually sit down and make the blasted thing.

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Better late than never – I’m incredibly happy I finally brought this cookbook page to life, as it was everything it promised to be and then some. If you also go completely gaga over banh mi flavors, then you simply MUST make this salad. It tastes precisely as advertised, and each bite just explodes spicy flavor in your mouth!

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

Speaking of spicy… you can tailor the heat to your personal preferences by adjusting the amount of sriracha used. You can make the meatballs themselves without it, for instance. You can add a little less to the mayo, though it’s not much there and I wouldn’t recommend cutting that back. You can also omit the final sriracha drizzle. If you want this to taste very authentic without extra heat, I’d leave the sriracha out of the meatballs and omit the drizzle at the end but keep it in the mayo. But if you’re like me, and can’t think about a banh mi without also dreaming of an overload of sriracha, then please use all of it as directed. You won’t be sorry.

Banh Mi Meatball Salad

This is just absolutely beyond delicious, I hope y’all enjoy it!

{One Year Ago: Hot and Sticky Slow Cooker Chicken Wings}
{Two Years Ago: Blood Orange-Braised Pork Shoulder}

Source: slightly adapted from The VB6 Cookbook by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 medium carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
¼ of a large daikon, peeled and julienned
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
About ½ a baguette, cut into 1-inch cubes
Olive oil
1 lb. ground sirloin
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs plus 2 tsp sriracha, plus more for drizzling, divided
Fresh cracked black pepper
1 tbs fish sauce
1 large heart romaine lettuce, coarsely chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered if large
½ a large cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 tbs mayonnaise
1 handful each of fresh mint and fresh cilantro, minced
Lime wedges, for serving

Directions:
First you will need to quickly pickle your vegetables. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and ½ tsp salt together in a medium bowl. Add the carrots, daikon, and onion and toss gently. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes; stir occasionally to evenly distribute the brine.
Preheat your oven to 450 F. Place the cubed baguette on a baking sheet and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Lightly season with kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Toss with your hands. Shake the pan so that the bread is in a single layer, then toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, until lightly browned and crispy. Remove the croutons from the oven and transfer to a plate or bowl. Carefully dust off any crumbs from the baking sheet, then spray it generously with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, garlic up to 1 tbs sriracha if desired, black pepper to taste, fish sauce, and ¼ tsp kosher salt. Gently shape the meat mixture into 16 evenly sized meatballs and transfer each to the greased baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly apart so they are not touching. Bake the meatballs, undisturbed, until browned and just cooked through, 8-12 minutes. Let them cool a bit while you assemble the salad.
At this point, add the mayonnaise and 2 tsp sriracha to the pickled vegetables and stir to combine thoroughly.
In a large salad bowl, add the romaine, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. Add the pickled dressed vegetables and toss to combine and dress the salad. Add the croutons and toss gently again. Divide the salad among dinner plates and top with 4 meatballs apiece. Drizzle with sriracha if desired, then garnish with the herbs and lime wedges. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.

Pickled Jalapenos

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If you ever look inside my fridge and notice that it’s lacking pickled jalapenos, then please call someone immediately, for I am not well. Like any good born and bred Texan, I’ll put jalapenos on anything and I simply can’t get enough of them. And pickled jalapenos are just the best, aren’t they?

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Goya brand used to be my go-to in pickled chile needs, but recently I’ve started to do the dirty work myself. And I say dirty work in a tongue and cheek way, as pickling is so easy; it mostly just requires some fridge space and patience. And they are always worth the wait.

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The difference between store-bought and homemade pickled jalapenos is quite vast – make them yourself once and you’ll find it difficult to go back to the grocery store jars. And frankly, that’s another reason I try to keep them on hand. If I find myself out when I need some and have to grab some from the store in a pinch, there will be groans and laments in my house. And not just from me!

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I personally believe there are a million uses for pickled jalapenos. I will put them on tacos of all kinds, nachos, burgers, chili dogs, cheesy fries, chili, and on and on, which is why it’s so important to me to keep them around.

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Also, have you ever set about making guacamole only to discover you forgot to get limes? (Surely that’s not just me.) Use some of the pickling liquid from the jalapenos instead. Sounds weird? Perhaps. But I promise you, it works in a pinch. And, minced pickled jalapenos can work in guacamole too, instead of raw chiles. Oh, and this same trick works for homemade tomato salsa! So hopefully I’ve convinced you to give these a go and jump aboard the pickling bandwagon if you’re not already there.

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Source: adapted from Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
15 jalapeno chiles, sliced
2 cups red wine vinegar
2 cups white wine vinegar
2 tbs kosher salt
2 tbs sugar
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds

Directions:
Place the jalapenos, in batches, in jars or tall deli containers that have tight-fitting lids.
Combine the red and white vinegars, salt, sugar, coriander, peppercorns, fennel, mustard, and cumin seeds in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cook until the sugar and salt dissolve, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Pour the mixture over the jalapenos, cover, and refrigerate. You need at least 24 hours, but I’ve found that it takes a good week for them to be really nicely pickled.

Banh Mi

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A banh mi just might be the best sandwich on the planet.  If you’ve never tried one before, I implore you to track one down in your city as soon as possible. Or just make this one!

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The banh mi sandwich is Vietnamese street food.  They are very popular in Ho Chi Minh City and in many North American and European cities with a strong Vietnamese immigrant community.  The sandwich came about as a result of French colonization of Indochina.  It’s truly a fusion of French and Vietnamese flavors.  In New Orleans, which has a large Vietnamese community, they are called Vietnamese po’boys. (Which reminds me, Matt and I are headed to New Orleans next week, I need to track one down while we’re there.)

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I ate my first ever banh mi about a year ago, in my own city of New York.  A little bit of searching Google and Yelp led me to a small restaurant on the edges of Little Italy and Chinatown called Banh Mi Saigon.  These are apparently the best in New York you can find, or so I was told. You know what? I believe it.  Matt and I both had a religious experience with those sandwiches.  They were so amazing, and I knew instantly that I had to make them at home sometime.

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A banh mi is marinated pork that is cooked up and sliced or shredded.  The sandwich is assembled on French bread, with mayonnaise (that part is not optional!), and pickled Asian vegetables, plus some sliced cucumber and sliced jalapenos.  You can add Sriracha as a condiment if you like. And some versions call for mousse pate. This particular recipe is based on the NOLA version and does not include it. And I do not recall the sandwich I ate in NYC having the pate. But some do.

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The recipe I made called for pork tenderloin to be grilled and sliced.  You could easily sub in the same amount of pork shoulder, then slow cook and shred it.  Making these at home does require some prep ahead of time, but they are much easier than I was anticipating.  I hope you will make these sometime soon.  There’s no reason to deprive yourself of such deliciousness!

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Source: Emeril at the Grill by Emeril Lagasse

Ingredients:
2 green onions, minced
1 fresh red chile, such as Fresno, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
2 tbs Vietnamese fish sauce
1 1/2 tbs fresh lime juice
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 French baguette
Spicy Vietnamese Mayonnaise (recipe to follow), or plain mayonnaise
Pickled Carrots and Daikon (recipe to follow)
1 Kirby cucumber, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves, to taste

Directions:
In a resealable bag, combine the green onions, red chile, garlic, sugar, black pepper, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the pork, turn to coat evenly, and seal the bag. Allow the pork to marinate, refrigerated, for at least 6 hours and up to overnight, turning it occasionally.
Remove the pork from the marinade and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
Pat the pork dry and brush it all over with the oil. Grill the pork, turning often, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center reads 145 F. Remove pork and let rest, tented with aluminum foil, for 15 minutes. Then cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.
Cut the baguette crosswise into 4 pieces. Cut each piece in half horizontally, but don’t cut all the way through. Remove some of the interior bread so it is less dense. Spread both sides of the bread liberally with the mayonnaise. Divide the sliced pork evenly among the bottom halves of the sandwiches. Top with the Pickled Carrots and Daikon, then cucumber slices, then jalapeno slices. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves, then close the sandwich. Serve immediately.

SPICY VIETNAMESE MAYONNAISE

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Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbs Sriracha sauce
1 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp Vietnamese fish sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to blend thoroughly. Serve immediately, or refrigerate a few hours to let the flavors marry more intensely.

PICKLED CARROTS AND DAIKON

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Ingredients:
1 cup rice wine vinegar
3 tbs sugar
1/4 tsp crushed chile flakes
1/4 tsp salt
2 carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonol
1 cup thinly sliced daikon

Directions:
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, crushed chile flakes, and salt and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Transfer the mixture to a non-reactive bowl or baking dish and add the carrots and daikon. Make sure they are all coated. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Pickled Donut Peaches

August is National Peach Month!  So happy National Peach Month everyone! I, like most everyone, love peaches.  I grew up eating peach cobblers, and that is still one of my favorite desserts.  You can expect to see a recipe for one pop up on this blog in the coming weeks.

I began this month long celebration with donut peaches.  These cuties have an even shorter season than regular peaches.  They are shaped differently than the normal, round ones.  They are circular and flattened, and they do look kind of like a donut, hence the name.  Lately I’ve jumped on the pickling bandwagon, but haven’t been too adventurous with it.  I’ve pickled cukes and jalapenos, but that was about it.  I decided it was time to spread my wings, so I pickled some donut peaches.  Pickling anything is easy enough, and these were no exception.  And the technique for removing skins will work on regular peaches too.

They’ve been sitting in my fridge, looking all pretty and begging to be used.  I’m not completely sure what one does with pickled donut peaches, but I really like the combination of peaches and pork, so I think they’ll accompany some brined and grilled pork chops, or maybe a pork tenderloin.  I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Source: Family Meals, by Tyler Florence

Ingredients:
12 to 14 donut peaches
2 large lemons, very thinly sliced and seeds removed
8 cups white vinegar
2 cups sugar
8 whole star anise
10 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks

Directions:
Bring a large saucepan of water up to a boil over high heat and fill a large bowl with ice water. Blanch the peaches in the boiling water for 15 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to remove them, then immediately transfer them to the ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cool, peel the peaches but leave them whole. Divide the peaches and lemon slices between 2 wide-mouth pint canning jars. I used deli containers. I also halved the recipe.
In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, sugar, star anise, cloves, and cinnamon sticks and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour the vinegar mixture over the contents of the jars, filling them to 1 inch of the rim. Divide the whole spices as evenly as possible between the 2 jars. Quickly screw the lids in place and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.

Makes 2 pints