Banh Mi

From August 2005 to May 2006, we lived in Houston. We moved because James got a job there and I didn’t really have anything going on in Austin so I followed him. It was a stressful move. He moved up there first, just a couple of weeks after Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans, and I followed a few weeks after. I moved up on a Saturday and the following Wednesday, there were mandatory evacuations from Houston due to Hurricane Rita. That pretty much set the pace for our nine months in Houston: pure chaos. 

What does this have to do with banh mi sandwiches? James had a co-worker in Houston, Johnny, who introduced him to all different kinds of Vietnamese food. They would regularly go to lunch at different restaurants off Bellaire and James would tell me all about his culinary food adventures. Meanwhile I worked in property management, in an office of seven, and I could only tolerate one person. That one person was El Salvadorean and she introduced me to all kinds of stuff; the others were true to life succubi who rolled their eyes at me when I’d talk about “weird” things like eating lentils, using crueltry-free cosmetics, or believing that women should be equal to men. “Go back to Austin with that crazy talk, Melissa!” That was seriously said to me numerous times. 

God I hated those women.

Anyway, Johnny would take James to eat banh mi and James loved it. He always planned on taking me but we never got around to it. I think he was also a little hesitant to go without Johnny because most people in that area didn’t speak English and he was afraid we’d get the wrong food. I feel like that was a very valid concern. Oh, and by the way, up until I made it, I’d never eaten banh mi. It’s become fairly popular in the past few years and there are a couple of restaurants that specialize in it here in Austin but we’ve just never made it. And now I don’t need to, cause I know how to do it myself. 

I didn’t use the recipe that was in the book because it called for pâté and I don’t eat pâté. I don’t know if pork pâté is made the same way goose pâté is made but I don’t care, I’m not supporting the pâté industry and its barbaric ways! I used a recipe from Chowhound; it also called for pâté. I just eliminated that part from the meal. 

The hardest parts about this meal were the brining of the meat and making the mayo. The brining wasn’t hard in itself but it just took forever. Like nine hours forever. Making the mayo was pretty cool, though, and I now refuse to use store bought mayo. There’s just no reason to buy it when you can make it yourself with a few ingredients AND it taste so much better than store bought! The only drawback from making it yourself is that you do end up making about two cups and you have to use it within a week or it goes bad. I don’t know anyone who uses two cups of mayo a week. That’s not true. I bet my old boss in Houston uses two cups of mayo a week. 

So anyway, my first experience with banh mi was amazing! I loved it! James said it wasn’t as spicy as he’s used to but that’s because I pulled out all the membrane and seeds from the jalapeños. I do not have to time to have my mouth on fire. The meat was so tender and juicy and the mayo, oh, the mayo was perfection. I’m glad James requested this meal.

This was our last Vietnamese meal and I’m glad we ended it with a bang. The wait was totally worth it. I just need to find a way to make this faster. Recommendations? I mean, other than going to a restaurant and ordering one. 




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