Life can be tough when the people you love are gluten-intolerant. So many great things in the world seem to be knocked out. Sandwiches, baked goods, pasta… It’s a sad, sad world. But I’m telling you today it doesn’t have to be. We are resilient, my friends. We adapt in the name of delicious food.
I woke up this morning with a HANKERING for banh mi like I’ve never had before. If you’ve never had one, go get one immediately. Or make this one! Thank me later. Traditional banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich served on crusty French bread. The usual suspects inside are mayo, roasted pork, pickled vegetables, fresh jalapenos and heavy dose of cilantro. People who really love calories and happiness (like me) will also add a few thick slices of pork pâte. One time I had one with foie gras and good LORD was that tasty. There are many variations of this sandwich, and every single one I’ve had (which, believe me, is not a short list) has been delicious. It’s just a fantastic combination.
This craving was the kind where I could think about nothing else until the grocery list was written out and I checked the clock at least twice an hour thinking “SANDWICH TIME?!” One of my professors, after witnessing my enthusiasm to participate was vastly increased when candy was offered as an incentive to answer questions, said to me once “I’ve never seen you talk this much in class, you’re like a damn golden retriever.” He’s not wrong. I have a one-track mind that, as you well know, is very food-motivated. I APOLOGIZE FOR NOTHING.
I’m not a big substitute person. Most gluten free breads and baked goods just… suck. They’re crumbly, tasteless, and quite frankly they just make me sad. The few exceptions I have found (like my tasty, tasty raviolis) have been home-made and labor-intensive. That’s why, for the most part, I try to use recipes that are either gluten-free by default or adapted to not include their glutinous component. For example, you can fry fish in cornmeal alone instead of dredging it in flour first. That kind of stuff.
So how do you turn a banh mi into something your gluten-allergic friends and family can eat? Enter the rice bowl. Still provides that starchy goodness to serves as a balance and base for the intense flavors of this dish and, as always, I’m a fan of any vehicle for the delivery of spicy mayo to my mouth. Some do pulled pork, but I chose sliced pork tenderloin for this dish because I wanted maximum flavor without making an entire pork shoulder. I’m hungry and I have been waiting all day for this. Tenderloin marinates well, cooks quickly, and tastes delicious.
For the Pork:
- 2 Pork Tenderloins (They often come in packs of two)
- 2-3 tablespoons Chinese five-spice powder
- Kosher Salt
For the Sauce:
- 5 tablespoons hoisin
- 5 tablespoons soy
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
For the Veggies:
- 1/2 Red Onion
- 2 Carrots
- 5-6 Radishes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
For the Sriracha Mayo:
- 1 egg
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2- 3 teaspoons sriracha
- Kosher Salt
For the Pork:
- Season the pork with the Chinese five spice powder and a heavy sprinkling of kosher salt. You need just enough five spice to coat the pork, it doesn’t need to be a thick layer.
- I cooked this in, you guessed it, the InstantPot. My knight in metal-plated armor. IT TOOK SEVEN MINUTES. I will seriously never be over this thing. I put a few tablespoons of water in there, set it to seven minutes at high pressure, and whammo. Dinner. It’s incredible.
- Remove the pork from the InstantPot and sear in a screamin’ hot skillet over high heat with a little olive oil, just long enough to brown each side (2-3 minutes). Make sure the pork has reached an internal temperature of 140 °F before serving.
- Allow to rest for 5-7 minutes at least before slicing.
Note: You can also easily make this recipe without the InstantPot. It won’t be as magical, and it’ll take longer, but it will still do the job. Just sear the pork over high heat and then finish in an oven at 400 °F.
For the Sauce:
- Combine all ingredients and mix well. That’s all! My mom cooked this one up, she taught me everything I know in the kitchen. If there is anything I love, its cooking with her. She’s my biggest fan and my favorite person to bounce ideas off of. Love you, mom.
For the Pickled Veggies:
- Slice the vegetables as thin as possible. The carrots can be cut into cute little matchsticks. The key here is to be CAREFUL. Don’t go cutting your fingers off I can’t handle that kind of responsibility. You were warned. Sure its fun to chop real fast and all but let me tell you from experience, finger + knife = bad time. Set the jalapeño aside, for garnish.
- In a small saucepan, heat the water, vinegar, salt, and sugar until the solids dissolve.
- In a mason jar or tupperware or literally any other liquid-holding item (I dunno, you can use a shoe if you want but I don’t recommend it), pour the pickling liquid over the veggies.
- Let cool to room temperature. These can be served room temperature or cold, whatever you prefer. Usually I would chill them, but I was literally digesting myself at this point. There was no time.
For the Sriracha Mayo:
- Place the egg, garlic, vinegar, and Sriracha in a blender.
- Pre-measure the oil into a measuring cup.
- With the blender on medium speed, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Keep a steady, thin stream and it’ll turn out perfect. Don’t go getting lazy on me and just dumping it in there. Trust me, I am lazy and I have tried that. It doesn’t work right. Learn from my lazy.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Start with a nice heavy pinch, it needs more than you think. Just keep tasting and adjusting.
- Add as much rice as you would like to your bowl.
- Add a few slices of pork on top and a few spoonfuls of the sauce.
- Drizzle with spicy mayo. I used a squeeze bottle for mine to make it look fancy, but you can also just mix it all up in the rice. Like I said, any method of delivering spicy mayo to my unhinged jaw is a win for me.
- Surround with pickled veggies.
- Garnish with extra Sriracha, jalapeños, and a heavy dose of cilantro. I also added a few chopped roasted peanuts on top for a little extra crunch and I highly recommend.
That spicy mayonnaise y’all… I was seriously THIS close to just squirting the bottle directly into my mouth. It was insanely good. Its the kind of thing you want to just sneak into the kitchen in the middle of the night and put on a cracker or… darn near anything. And with the tartness of the pickled veggies and that juicy pork? I ate so much that it was actually painful.
Ok, I know there’s that whole thing about don’t toot your own horn and all but SHIT this was tasty. I mean it way surpassed my expectations today. It was well received by all and even got a “Wow, this is good!” from my dad which is akin to a “OOOOOOHHH MY GOD LOVE IT FEED ME MORE!!” from a regular person. My mom and I danced around the kitchen in excitement and decided that this is a recipe that is in permanent rotation.
It was fast, it was flavor packed, and relatively healthy (if you’re not like me and you don’t bury yourself in spicy mayo). Total winner in my book. If you make anything of mine, make this.