Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich influenced by the French occupation of Indochina. Despite it's colonial origins, this sandwich brings France and Asia together in a complementary way. French baguettes, pate and mayonnaise meet Asian peppers, cilantro, and pickled vegetables. It has earned a cult following around the world, and for good reason. It's spicy, savory, acidic-a near perfect sandwich. It's also very simple to make at home. Making your own SPAM is not quite as simple, but doing this gives your banh mi a tender, fatty texture and rich flavor.
Step 1: Cook the Pig Trotters
Recently, I helped break down a whole pig and trotters, or pig's feet are part of the process. (Read about it here). Split the trotters and put them in a stock pot of water and cook on low heat for 3-4 hours. Add a whole onion, roughly chopped, garlic cloves and 3 bay leaves and plenty of salt and pepper.
Step 2: Prepare the Trotters
Remove the trotters and pick the meat and gristle from them. The unctuous, gelatin like parts will help make the SPAM stick together and create a gel over it. Next, I mixed the trotters with ground pork. I also added some sage leaves, pepper and about a tablespoon of chili flakes. I divided it into half and packed each into plastic bag, and then put into a bread pan. I then placed these into the freezer so that it’s frozen into shape.
Step 3: Cook the SPAM
I cooked this in a Sous Vide machine for four hours. This might be the only reason people aren’t breaking their teeth on the boney-bits. However, you can also use a good meat grinder, and then DIY Sous Vide it by filling a baking pan with water and then placing the SPAM inside to bake at a low heat. (See salmon SPAM Instructable for doing this). I’ve also heard that you can use a dishwasher to Sous Vide, but that’s an entirely different Instructable. I put it in the fridge overnight, and the next day took it out for a look. It was the right shape, the hue almost pink, and the gelatin from the pig hooves seemed to bind it all together.
Step 4: Sautee SPAM
Get oil or butter really hot, and flash fry it for 20 seconds on each side.
Step 5: Assemble Bahn Mi Ingredients
For one loaf of SPAM, you'll want two jalapeño, thinly sliced, about a half cup of cilantro leaves, cleaned and with stems discarded or saved for making future stocks. Slice one cucumber in thin, julienned strips. Also julienne carrots and daikon radish. (About a cup each). I didn't have daikons, but I did have lotus root, so I used that instead.
Step 6: Quick Pickle Carrots
Bring 1 cup of water just below a boil and add 2 tbsp. of sugar and 2 tbsp. of salt. Let these dissolve entirely in the water. Add one cup of rice vinegar and turn off the heat. Let these sit for as long as possible. An hour is great, overnight better. But I used them in about 20 minutes and it still worked.
Step 7: Assemble
Put a slice of SPAM, a bit of cilantro, jalapeño, and pickled carrots on the sandwich. I added some gomasio to the mayonnaise, and then spread a little on the other side of the bread. Enjoy!