Monday, March 25, 2013

Grilled lemongrass beef sandwich (Banh mi thit bo nuong xa)

 I can't believed Spring is here already! My oldest son was on Spring break last week, so I used that excuse to take a couple days off from work to do a mini family vacation. It was a nice little get away for the boys, but I told my husband it was more like an adventure for me and him if you know what I mean. Traveling with kids is never easy, especially with the little ones. Therefore, I always pick somewhere locally in driving distance as our vacation destination. This time around, we picked San Diego so the boys can visit Sea world and get acquainted with the fish and sea animals. They loved it, but my husband and I were knocked out at the end of each day while we were there. 
Anyway, I didn't have much time to cook since the vacation and I have neglected my blog long enough so I just want to post something quick that I made a couple weeks ago for breakfast. Traditionally, banh mi is served as breakfast with a variety of different fillings. I particularly love this grilled lemongrass ground beef patties for the filling because it reminds me of my childhood in Vietnam. I used to gulp down these for breakfast before school every morning. The charcoal grilled flavor of the meat blending together with the lemongrass fragrant creates a mouth-watering and irresistible experience in every bite. I hope you will try and enjoy it too.



1. For the beef patties:
- 1 lb of ground beef (use the meat with higher fat content so the meat won't dry out too much after grilled)
- 1 large white or yellow onion (finely chopped)
- 1 small Thai red chili (optional if you like to spice it up)
- 4 tbsp of finely minced lemongrass
- 3 tbsp of hoisin sauce
- 5 cloves of garlic (minced)
- 3 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp five spices
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt

2. For the pickled carrot and daikon:
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium daikon
- 2 cups of water
- 1/4 white vinegar
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 tbsp of salt

3. For the sauce:
- 2 tbsp of hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup of juice from the grilled beef if grilled in the oven (or beef broth if charcoal grilled)
- 1 tsp of sugar, black pepper

4. For the sandwich:
- Warm, freshly baked baguettes
- Cucumber, jalapenos, green onions, Thai red chilies, cilantro, pickled carrot/daikon.
- Homemade Vietnamese mayonnaise 


- Mix all the ingredients for the beef patty together, let rest for 15 minutes and form into 2 inch wide patties (you can also prepare this step the night before). If you want the charcoal grilled flavor, which I usually prefer, then go for it. If you don't have a gas or charcoal grill, then the oven will also do the job just fine.
- Pre-heat the oven to 400F, grill the meat patties in an aluminum tray for about 20 minutes. Make sure you turn the patties occasionally to get even browning. After 15 minutes, open the oven, remove the juice of the meat inside the tray into a small bow and reserve for the sauce later. Drizzle the patties with some oil and put it back in the oven. For the last 5 minute, turn up the oven to 500F under broiler and broil the patties until caramelizing on both side.

- For the sauce, bring the reserved juice of the meat or beef broth together with hoisin sauce in a small sauce pan. Add sugar and black pepper. Turn off the heat once it becomes bubbling hot. Set aside for the sandwich later.
- Shred the carrots and daikon. In a small sauce pan, bring the vinegar, sugar, water and salt to boil and turn off the heat. Wait until the mixture completely cool to room temperature before pouring it into the shredded carrot and daikon. Keep refrigerated in an air-tight container and you can have it ready for use anytime. 
- Slice the cucumbers lengthwise, shred the green onions, thinly slice the jalapeno and red chili.

 - To assemble the sandwich, cut the baguette lengthwise on one side and leave the other side intact. Spread the mayonnaise on both sides of the baguette, drizzle a teaspoon of hoisin sauce mixture then lay 2-3 patties on one side. Subsequently layer the sandwich with cucumber slices, pickled carrot/ daikon, shredded green onions, jalapeno and red chili slices. Finally, layer on top a couple sprigs of cilantro and drizzle with another teaspoon of hoisin sauce. And voila ... breakfast (or lunch) is ready!

Bon appetit!

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