Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Asian Sandwich Bar: Allowing others to inspire you

For Luke House Church, who willingly subjects themselves to my experiments, and JA who asked me to make these in the first place.

A member of my house church sent me an email with the subject header, "Do you still take requests?" and the body of the email had the sentence, "I dunno how difficult these would be to make" and then this link, which took me to the "Moment Blog" of the NY times. In it was an article about a sandwich place named Xie Xie (pronounced "shay shay", the Mandarin word for thank you.) I read the article and it clearly showed sandwiches being made into something really splendid with great Asian flavors and ingredients. I was intrigued and challenged. I wrote back to my house church member and said, "Doable. Just have to figure out the components." He wondered when I would make them and I promised him that I would make them the next time the house church was at our house.

Only to discover the next day that we were meeting at our house. I wrote JA, letting him know that I would be making the sandwiches, and he had to provide the bread. I then spent a bit of time trying to figure out what sort of components went into the ideal Asian Sandwich since I had never really eaten one. I studied the menu at Xie Xie, which wasn't all that helpful considering I'd never had one of their sandwiches and then found a great post at Serious Eats which gave me enough information for me to figure out what I'd like to do.

I decided that I would use what I knew and just add a few components around it. I wasn't making the Xie Xie Sandwich, but my version of it, which gave me a bit of "artistic license" if you will. I decided on a "sandwich bar" concept, which meant that I would have a variety of components, and my house church guinea pigs would be able to put together what they liked.

It was not difficult to do, as I marinated the meat the night before, and just threw together the components the day off. It can be somewhat labor intensive in terms of chopping, but if you get yourself a little Japanese Mandoline, it can make your work much easier. Do not be daunted by the long list here - add and subtract what you want to make and simplify with fewer components if y0u like. If I had the list of absolutes: basil mayo, carrots, cucumber and onion jam. See - I just simplified your life.

The Asian Sandwich Bar
I used my two tried and true recipes for protein:
Korean BBQ Flank Steak
Ginger Soy BBQ Chicken.

Basil Mayonnaise
Sesame Soy Mayonnaise
Garlic Jalapeno Mayonnaise
Onion Jam

Vegetable Fillings
Carrot Kimchee
Cilantro Cucumber Pickles
Jalapeno Pickles

French Baguette, sliced

Additional Sides, unrelated to the sandwich
Sesame Noodles with Cilantro and Scallion
Curried Slaw

I have to say, I gave myself a pat on the back because it was yummy. The more popular flavor combination was the basil mayo, beef, carrots, cucumbers, onion jam. I derived incredible satisfaction from a job well done. JA's wife was embarrassed at one point when she realized it was her husband who put me up to it, but best friend JEL stepped in and said, "Are you kidding me? This is the stuff that Joanne LIVES for. She loves it when someone asks her to make something and it comes out well." Good point JEL. I DO LOVE IT!

Asian Sandwiches - Chicken or Beef
Makes more than enough for 20 people
(you can easily half the recipe, and freeze the extra meat for later use.)

6 loaves of good French bread, sliced into appropriate sandwich portions. (I've tried it both with the crunchier crustier baguettes and a softer french bread and I prefer the softer - perhaps offer a selection)

4-5 lbs, marinated Korean Bbq Flank Steak, cooked and thinly sliced
4-5 lbs, marinated Ginger Soy Chicken, cooked and thinly sliced

Basil Mayonnaise
3/4 cup good mayonnaise (I like Best Foods AKA Hellmans)
1/4 cup basil, chiffonade (or chopped really fine)
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. Chill until needed.

Soy Sesame Mayonnaise
3/4 cup good mayonnaise
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together. Chill until needed.

Garlic Jalapeno Mayonnaise (SPICY Warning!)
3/4 cup good mayonnaise
2 jalapenos, finely chopped, seeds and all (I use the cuisinart mini prep for this)
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped (just chopped this together with the jalapenos in the cuisinart)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together. Chill until needed.

Onion Jam
1/2 stick (1/4 cup of butter)
3 medium yellow or white onions, diced
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey

In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add onions and stir occasionally until onions are all wilted, 10-15 minutes. Add two cloves of garlic, red wine vinegar and honey, and simmer until the consistency is similar to jam, additional 15 minutes. Set aside, and rewarm over low heat when serving with sandwiches.

Carrot Kimchee
1/2 lb of carrots, julienne
1 1/2 cup rice vinegar (or whatever vinegar you have)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Korean chili powder (gochu gahloo 고추가루) or red chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Cilantro Cucumber Pickles
1/2 lb of Persian cucumbers (or baby cucumbers), sliced thinly
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/12 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

Do NOT make this ahead of time. Have all the vegetables chopped and ready but mix together all the ingredients right before you open your sandwich bar.

Jalapeno Pickles
8 jalapenos, thinly sliced
1 cup of rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate, at least 3 hours.

To serve - set out all the components - grouping them together by category - mayonnaises and onion jams together. All the pickles together. Meat and chicken together. Have a stack of breads and allow your guests to construct their sandwich.

Building the sandwich

The blank canvas

Layer of basil mayonnaise and chicken on top

Carrot kimchee, cilantro cucumbers on top of that

Onion jam on the other piece of bread.

Stacked and ready to be eaten

Can you resist this?

The Japanese Mandoline I own.


Nina Timm said...

A very clever idea and the bonus is that there will always be a combination that you haven't tried!!! So we can all learn!!

Tia said...

what a great idea! thx for the filling list... so comprehensive. i will have to try this on a smaller scale.

angies said...

didn't do the whole bar since it was for packing for hubby's lunch but tried the sandwich like u suggested and it was yum! thanks again! will try as a bar on the next family gathering!

Ravenous Couple said...

great job for making banh mi for the first time! your flavor profiles look spot on!

hudson umma said...

so funny you posted this because i've been meaning to make a vietnamese sandwich at home and we had this at joyce's the other day. so yummy! i'm going to add pickled moo, cucmber and carrot to mine.

JMP said...

made this last night and my husband LOVED it. thank you!!!

MsJess said...

I finally made this and it was a huge hit! Since Xie-Xie went out of buisness maybe you should start your own restaraunt or food truck selling these. They are sort of like banh mi (and in fact next time I'd add in some pate for extra yumminess) but they are still their own thing.

Runescape 2007 Gold said...

so crazy you published this because i've been significance to create a vietnamese food at house and we had this at joyce's the other day. so yummy! i'm going to add pickled mooBuy Runescape 2007 Gold
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