lemongrass steak bánh mì

Lemongrass steak bánh mì
Lemongrass steak bánh mì

These days it seems that almost every menu you look at features some kind of fusion food. Chicken katsu curry burgers, Thai curry pies, taco pizzas… the list goes on. While I love trying food that’s true to its country of origin, when I spy a fusion creation on the menu, my curiosity often gets the better of me. Many dishes really seem to work – think pan-Asian, Anglo-Indian and Tex-Mex cuisine. On the other hand, there are some meals that I’m sure aren’t meant to be tampered with. For example, pizza and English breakfast are both great in their own right, but English breakfast pizza?

This recipe showcases a fusion dish that, rather than being invented on a whim (as I’m guessing was the case with English breakfast pizza), was created as a result of French colonization in Indochina between the late 1800s and the middle of the 20th century. Bánh mì is a type of sandwich that combines French ingredients, such as baguettes, mayonnaise and pâté, with Vietnamese ingredients, often including seasoned meat, pickled vegetables and fresh coriander. Pork is commonly used as a filling, but I’ve gone for steak, mainly because you don’t have to slow-cook it, but also because I couldn’t resist the thought of a steak sandwich with Vietnamese and French ingredients. The steak marinade is infused with lemongrass, which gives the meat a deliciously sweet citrus flavour. The pickled carrots add a satisfying vinegary crunch and the other vegetables give the sandwiches that essential fresh taste of Vietnamese cuisine. I realise that the pâté component might not everyone’s cup of tea but if you want to add another deeper level of flavour and perfectly complete the dish, it’s worth giving it a try.

I’d suggest preparing the steak and the carrots at least an hour in advance (or overnight if you’re organised enough), but once you’ve done this, the final cooking and assembly part is pretty speedy. Enough chat – on to the recipe!

Lemongrass steak bánh mì
Lemongrass steak bánh mì
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Lemongrass steak bánh mì
Instructions
  1. Peel away the tough outer layers from the lemongrass stalk and slice off the bottom tip. Then slice the remaining core finely.
  2. Use a pestle and mortar to grind the sliced lemongrass and the garlic clove to a rough paste.
    Lemongrass steak bánh mì
  3. Mix together the lemongrass and garlic mixture, fish sauce, soy sauce, oil and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Pour into a plastic bag and add the steak. Seal the bag and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. Cut the carrot into thin matchsticks.
  6. Combine the vinegar and sugar with 100 ml warm water and add a generous pinch of salt. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.
  7. Place the carrot in a container or plastic bag and add the pickling liquid. Once the liquid has cooled, seal the bag or cover the container and place in the fridge for at least an hour.
    Lemongrass steak bánh mì
  8. Cut the cucumber into thin rounds and then halve. Set aside with the other vegetables.
    Lemongrass steak bánh mì
  9. Heat a frying pan or grill pan over a medium-high heat. Remove the steak from the marinade. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side for rare, 4 minutes on each side for medium and 5-6 minutes on each side for well done.
  10. Remove the steak from the pan, wrap in tin foil and leave to rest while you prepare the baguettes.
  11. Cut each baguette in half lengthways. Spread each bottom half with mayonnaise and each top half with pâté.
  12. Thinly slice the steak across the grain.
  13. Top the bottom half of each baguette with cucumber, followed by the pickled carrot sticks, steak slices, coriander, chilli and spring onions (optional). Then finish with the remaining baguette halves.
Recipe Notes

Although I've recommended that you fry the steak, if the weather's good, why not grill it on the barbecue instead?

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