Saturday, February 9, 2019

Grilled Pork Banh Mi

In August of 1971, I had just completed my first year of Pre-Med at St. Thomas College in St. Paul. This was about 4 months before my college adviser sat me down to tell me that "there is absolutely no stinking way you will ever be a doctor". While I loved biology, chemistry and calculus were my downfall and led me to pursue a career in advertising (selling things to people that they do not need) instead of my dream career in medicine. It also did not help that while attending St. Thomas, I was doing really well in my double minor of girls and beer.

When I started at St. Thomas in 1970, the war in Vietnam was consuming the entire country. I did not spend a lot of time dwelling on it....after all I had a college deferment. But that all changed when college deferments bit the dust. My classmates were all glued to the television on August 7, 1971 to watch the lottery drawings for all men born in 1952. If your number was called, you were going. Your only hope was for a high lottery number or a really solid medical excuse, like Donald Trump's bad feet.

There was only one person I knew of from St. Thomas that did not do well in the lottery. Tim Lippert shipped off to Vietnam and thankfully made it back intact. I did not have bad feet, so my fate rested with the luck of the draw. Those folks who shared my July 6 birthday got a lottery number of 185. The  draft inductions started on January 1, we had to hold our breath for most of the year to see how high the draft numbers would go. As it turned out, they drafted all eligible men through the 95th lottery number. So I was left to pursue my major in advertising and continued to excel in both of my double minors. I did not get to go to Vietnam. But, oh, how I love their food. Especially this Banh Mi sandwich recipe from Luke Nguyen.

1/4 cup fish sauce (Red Boat recommended)
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 scallions, white and tender green parts only, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1-1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, thinly sliced
2 baguettes, split
1/2 seedless cucumber, cut into 2-inch matchsticks
1-1/2 loosely packed cups cilantro sprigs


  1. Prepare a grill for direct cooking over high heat.
  2. In a blender, puree the fish sauce with the honey, sugar, pepper, scallions and garlic. Transfer the marinade to a bowl, add the pork and toss. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours. Thread the pork through the top and bottom of each slice onto bamboo skewers.
  3. Grill pork over high heat, turning, until just cooked, 4 minutes. Spread Sriracha on the inside of the baguettes, top and bottom. Place 2 skewers in each roll, close and pull out the skewers. Top with the cucumber and cilantro and serve.

I like beer with my sandwiches. Try Tiger Beer from Vietnam.

Grogs and Goldie, 1956

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