Lemongrass Pork Banh Mi – Sandwiches

It’s been beautiful weather here in the Carolinas! Time to get out the grill! Today I’m making lemongrass pork banh mi. Banh mi is very similar to a sub or hoagie, but in my opinion, much better! It’s very healthy and full of flavor! 🙂

There is a little bit of prep time required for this sandwich, but it is well worth it.

First you will need to make the carrot and radish pickles.

You will need:

1 cup warm water

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar

2 Tbsp sugar

2 tsp salt

1/2 pound carrots (peeled and cut to match stick size) I buy pre-cut ones

1/2 pound daikon radish (peeled and cut to match stick size) If you don’t have daikon you can use regular red radishes

Mix the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolves. Place the carrots and radish in a container and cover with the liquid. Let sit in brine for at least and hour and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Next begin on your meat. For this you will need:

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce

3 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp oil

2 stalks grated lemongrass, or if you buy the frozen kind you’ll need about 1/4 cup

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 lbs pork tenderloin, cut into pieces

Mix all the ingredients together.

Allow to marinate for at least one hour (though I’m usually in a hurry and never give it more than 20 min. and it still tastes fine). Place on the grill until meat is done and beginning to brown.

There are several variations on the mayonnaise that you can use. You can use plain mayonnaise or you can mix it with other ingredients like lime, chili paste or soy sauce. I usually choose just soy sauce. For that variation you will need:

5 Tbsp real mayonnaise

1Tbsp soy sauce

Blend until smooth.

Once you’v done all the prep work, you can start assembling your sandwiches,

For the banh mi you will need:

Lightly toasted baguettes

Carrot and radish pickles

Mayonnaise spread

Cucumbers, peeled, chopped long-wise and seeded, then sliced

Cilantro sprigs, with long stems cut off

Lemongrass pork

Jalapenos, sliced and seeded

Spread the mayonnaise on the baguettes. Layer on meat, pickles, cucumbers, jalapenos , and cilantro.

This is the perfect meal for a Spring or Summer day! 🙂

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Novice’s Guide to Purchasing Asian Ingredients – Fish Sauce

I remember trying to figure out how to stock my kitchen with staples to cook some of my husband’s favorite dishes and feeling very overwhelmed.  There are so many different things, so many varieties…it can be confusing. In fact, sometimes it’s still confusing.

If you are interested in cooking Asian foods this guide may help you sort it out. I can’t offer a comprehensive guide encompassing all the different ingredients…frankly, that would take more days and pages than I could possibly put together. Instead I will try and tackle one or two ingredients at a time.

Fish Sauce

Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in most Southeast Asian foods. There are also Japanese and Korean varieties.

If you are buying fish sauce to cook a Vietnamese dish, try and find one that is a dark amber color and has the words nuoc mam on the label. It is made from fermented anchovies, salt and water.

The delicious sauce (also called nuoc mam) served in Vietnamese restaurants  along with the fried egg rolls and some of the other dishes that are often popular is made from fish sauce, vinegar, lime or lemon juice, sugar and sometimes chilis and garlic. This sauce is primarily used for dipping but the plain fish sauce is typically used for cooking.

In the Philippines, anchovies, shrimp or other small fish are fermented in a process that takes many months to make a paste-like substance called bagoong. The by-product of this is a yellowish liquid called patis…the Filipino fish sauce.

In Laos fish sauce is called nam pa and in Thailand nam pla. Both are very similar to the Vietnamese version. There is also another version in Laos called padaek which has some solid fish pieces in it.

Fish sauce in Japan is called Ikanago shoyu. Miso (seasoning) is usually made from fermented soy, rice or barley.  Ikanago shoyu is a regional version of miso made from the sand lance and used to season hot pot dishes. This is

Fish sauce in Korea is called Jeotgal and is made from anchovies, but is primarily used in kimchi.

I’m sure there are probably a lot of other varieties and uses that I did not include, but hopefully this will give you some idea of what to get so that you do not feel overwhelmed in the Asian market.

Also, I know I’ve said in the past that there is no substitute for fish sauce, and in my opinion that holds true. However, in a pinch there is a recipe you can use if you can’t find fish sauce or if you run out suddenly.

Mix one part soy sauce to four parts anchovies and simmer in a saucepan for 10 min. Strain this through a sieve to extract the solids. I do not guarantee the flavor of this recipe, as I’ve never actually tried it…never been in that bad of a pinch. 😉

And here are a few online sites you can buy fish sauce:



Pacific Rim Gourmet (expensive)

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Vietnamese Pork Chops – Thit Heo Nuong

One of my favorite things in Vietnamese cuisine is fish sauce. It’s one ingredient that I would never attempt to substitute. This amber colored liquid is a staple in the Vietnamese diet. I usually stock up on this each time I go to an Asian market, though recently I’ve noticed that our local Food Lion carries the Squid brand fish sauce. It costs significantly more there, but it’s nice to know I can get it here if I run out and don’t want to drive for an hour to get it. If you are looking for fish sauce, check your International food aisle…it’s possible they might have it there.

For those of you who would like to try Vietnamese foods but do not like spicy dishes, this would be a good place to start. This recipe is very easy, flavorful and won’t set your mouth on fire…in fact it’s not spicy at all. 🙂

You will need:

6-8 pork chops

2 Tbsp sugar

1 large onion, minced

6 cloves of garlic, finely minced or crushed

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 Tbsp fish sauce

Combine all ingredients in shallow dish and let marinate at least one hour

Coat pan with oil and cook until meat is thoroughly cooked

Continue to cook until pork and onions begin to brown. This can also be made on the grill.

Serve with rice and veggies for a delicious and healthy meal! 🙂

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Che Chuoi – Sweet Coconut Tapioca With Bananas

I remember when my husband and I first got married I knew very little about making Vietnamese foods. Many of the recipes looked daunting and some of the ingredients were unfamiliar to me.

Over the years I have figured many things out with help from cookbooks, the internet, family and our church family. While I am still learning, there are a lot of things that I have figured out how to make, that no longer seem difficult.

Now I have a new sister-in-law who finds herself pretty much where I was a few years ago. I hope to post some recipe tutorials that will simplify the making of Vietnamese cuisine in order to help my new sis and anyone else who is interested in trying a few Vietnamese dishes.

This recipe is like a Vietnamese version of tapioca pudding.

You will need:

2 cups water

1 14oz can coconut milk (not coconut water…it should be thick, white and creamy looking, not thin)

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup uncooked granulated tapioca

1/2 tsp salt

2 large ripe bananas, cut in 1/4 pieces

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional and since my husband hates sesame seeds, I leave them out)

Mix the water and coconut milk in a medium pan. At first it will look a little chunky.

Bring the water and coconut milk to a boil (careful it doesn’t boil over, especially when you start adding things)

Reduce heat to medium-low then stir in sugar, tapioca and salt.

Cook for 30 min. stirring frequently. Then stir in bananas.

Remove from heat, cover and let sit for about 15 min. You can serve this warm or chilled. Here is where you would sprinkle on some sesame seeds if you desire. I hope this will be a simple and fun recipe for you to try! 🙂

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Poofy Cheeks