Sunday, April 29, 2007


Vietnamese Pork Sandwiches., originally uploaded by razzieswirl.

This weekend was quite possibly the lovliest weekend I've had in a very long time. It was near perfect.

I started my weekend out by exercising my ass off at the gym on Friday morning (my 5th day in a row, yay). Friday evening my mother took T and I out for dinner (in celebration of his promotion) to a new steak house that Anthony's opened. I honestly don't like Anthony's that much. But this place was really, really good regardless of my low expectations. I had a pomegranate martini that was delicious, T had two 007 martini's, and my mother had a double vodka martini. We started the meal with a king crab, scampi, artichoke dip and oh man, it was killer. Really truly good, you could tell they made the sauce themselves, it wasn't a glob of bottled mayo with the seafood mixed in. And the bread that comes with it (plus you get another basket when you sit down) is the best bread I've ever had at a restaurant. Seriously. It's like a very thin homemade cibatta topped with garlic, lemon, parsley, parmesan and olive oil, it was blow your mind good. I can't even explain how good it was, I just can't put it into words.

Saturday morning we woke up to sun (yay!). Our bedroom window is east facing, and we have these chocolate/golden color curtains, so when the sun comes dancing in through them the whole room glows. It's a wonderful way to wake up. I woke up early, and T was still snoring away (probably partly due to the 007 martinis floating around in his system) so I grabbed my laptop and began looking at garage sales (one of my favorite Saturday morning activities, garage sale-ing coffee in hand) and low and behold one of the best garage sales of the year was scheduled to start in half an hour. Suprisingly this sale is at a church. But it never seems to dissapoint. So I shook Thomas awake, we grabbed Thomas' sister, coffee and headed out. And we scored quite a few amazing things. First I found a glass coffee/tea pot (seen in the strawberry tart picture), a very cool teak deer statue, a gorgeous copper/chocolate Haeger vase, a beautiful art deco tea cup, and an adorable lime green plastic beach bag, just to name a few things. Every peice was a dollar or less (most less). Seriously amazing! After the most successful garage sale-ing in a long while, we picked up a few sandwiches and some sparkling lemonade from the grocery, threw a few cups and a large blanket into my new beach bag and headed to a secluded beach here in Bellingham where we had a wonderful picnic. It was very sunny, there was a breeze, but even that was warm. It was great. After that, we came home, laid out in the backyard and read the Yellow Submarine (another garage sale score), made a fort, and played with the dogs.

Sunday was the norm, grocery shopping etc.
But that brings us to the picture above (I'm sure you're thinking, finally). They are Vietnamese Pork Loin Sandwiches, with pickled carrots, red onion, ciclantro, and cucumber on a sesame bun. These were really good. T was pretty skeptical at first, but when all was cooked and ready he ate two sandwiches. He would've eaten three if I hadn't torn the pork out of his hands and packed it up in the fridge. We had my mother over for dinner too, which was nice, it's something that rarely happens. We either usually go out, or we drive out to her house. I absolutely adore having people over for dinner, especially when we can eat out in the backyard.

Anyway, these sandwiches were a huge hit. They're almost sweet, but sort of spicy, with just the right amount of salt. I like pork that is slow cooked better, otherwise it's kind of chewy and tough. Since you reduce the sauce and baste the meat after it marinates for 2 hours I don't see why you couldn't just slow cook this stuff for 4-6 hours whole and cut it after it's cooked. I guess roasting it in the oven is much easier, and a lot faster. It was good though. And not to hard, it doesn't take too long to whip up or cook. But it does have to marinate for at least 2 hours. So unless you get home early, or make it the night before, this is probably best left for your days off. I found the recipe at another food blog and I don't remember which one, so if it was yours let me know and I will gladly post a link and give you credit! This was definately perfect for a backyard picnic barbeque. I paired it with an edamame salad and a nice Robert Mondavi reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. We all had blue plastic plates so clean up was a breeze. After dinner while we waited for the coffee to brew we enjoyed some good conversation, more wine and the sunset. We ended the evening with a scrumptious dessert (post to follow) and a strong cup of coffee. I've already got my gym bag packed for tomorrow and a sandwich made up with the leftovers, so I'm ready (marterialistically speaking) for Monday.

Recipe: Vietnamese Sandwiches

For pork: 

1 (1-pound/0.5kg) piece boneless pork loin
1/4 cup (60ml) hoisin sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) soy sauce
1/4 cup (60ml) rice wine or sake
2 tablespoons fish sauce (optional, or 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/4 cup (60ml) honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

For sandwiches:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/4 cup (60ml) rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt, or enough to make a mildly salty brine
2 cups (500ml) peeled and shredded carrots
2 cups (500ml)peeled and shredded daikon radish (traditional, though I left this out)
8 small baguettes (petit pains), preferably from a Vietnamese bakery
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks 
pickled jalapeƱo pepper slices, or chopped fresh chilies, to taste
fresh cilantro sprigs

To prepare pork, remove and discard any sinew and trim off large pieces of fat on the exterior. Cut pork across the grain into 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) thick slices (if you're having trouble with this, it helps to partially freeze the meat first). Transfer pork to a large sealable plastic bag. Stir together remaining ingredients in a small bowl until well combined. Add to pork and turn pork to coat, then squeeze bag to eliminate as much air as possible and seal. Marinate pork, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours.
Mix together the warm water, vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir until everything dissolves and add the carrots and daikon (if using). Let stand for at least 1 hour. Drain well before using.

Put a rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 425°F/220C. Remove pork from marinade, reserving marinade, and position pork strips 1 inch apart on a wire rack set above a foil-lined roasting pan. Bring marinade to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan (marinade may look curdled), and boil until it has reduced to a thick syrup. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Brush some marinade over pork and roast for about 10 minutes. Generously baste meat again with marinade, turn each piece over, and baste again. Roast pork for 15-20 minutes more, basting 2 or 3 more times with remaining marinade, until cooked through, glistening and caramelized around the edges. Cool slightly, and trim into pieces that will fit inside the baguettes.

Warm the baguettes slightly in the oven to revive their crispiness. To assemble the sandwiches, cut open the baguettes on one side, slather with mayonnaise, and layer some of each of the remaining ingredients.