I ate my first bánh mì while traveling through Laos in 2003. Not having seen a baguette the entire time I’d traveled through Thailand, it was a bit of a surprise. Back then, nary an American knew the word. Today everyone, including my parents, knows what it is and where to get one. What most people don’t realize is how easy it is to make at home.
In Laos, we ate the sandwich with pate rather than with brisket or pork belly. I am a fan of all three, independently or combined, but pate is the cheapest and easiest to make at home. This recipe costs little more than a $1 and tastes so good that even my nine-year-old friend Malin asked for seconds.
Although making a pate sounds tricky, it’s not. You can even make it without a food processor and call it “country style.”
Pate for bánh mì
6 oz chicken livers (half the container)
6 oz ground pork (I’m using that Morrell Pork Sausage I mentioned) (half of the package)
1 & 1/2 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. dried ground coriander
1/8 t. dried ground cumin
Cracked black pepper
2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup water
Take the chicken livers you bought. If you got them frozen, let them sit on the counter for about an hour. They will defrost very quickly. Remove approx. 6 oz. (or, half the container). The other half of the container can go back in the freezer.
I like to lay the livers out on a tea towel to absorb more of the moisture, but you could pat them down with paper towels or leave them in a strainer for a bit. You will need to adjust for moisture and add less water later if your livers are too wet. Remove the “brown or green trimmings and fatty vestiges” as the Ravenous Couple says.
Hopefully you processed extra breadcrumbs yesterday, but if not, simply take a piece of that loaf out of the freezer, slice in a couple pieces and process. While you’re at it, take out another piece for your sandwich bread. When crumby, add everything but the water. If the mixture is too thick and clumps around the blade, add water. If it turns into a creamy blend, you’re good. Add a splash of water and process more. A lot of recipes call for wine, champagne, etc. You can add it, but since I skipped it out of thrift.
Pour the mixture into a loaf pan. (I have this tiny one which makes just enough pate for one person for a week.) Set that pan in another pan filled with water. Dot the top with butter. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Check for done-ness by sticking a toothpick in the middle. The loaf will also start to pull away from the sides as it finishes baking. Set side to cool.
Now take out a jalapeno, some cilantro, and your pickles and cumin mayonnaise. Smear the mayo on a piece of that trusty bread and place it face-down on a skillet or comal. Put a tea kettle or large pot on top; press. Rotate it as needed to make sure it gets evenly toasted. Top with more mayo as needed, cilantro, finely sliced jalapeno, pickles and pate.
Today I noticed that my jalapenos were looking a little withered. I have a few methods for prolonging the life of fruits and vegetables. I thought through my options: I could oven-dry them; pickle them; or put them in a simple syrup (there’s a company bottles this combo and calls it gold). They’re delicious, but for less than two dollars and very little time, you should make your own. They are great in burritos – and you can even use the remaining syrup in cocktails. Take at least one, slice it finely and drop it in vinegar. We’ll use this tomorrow.
FOR A RAINY DAY
So you may have noticed that you only used half of the pork sausage. If you’re just one person, it’s all you’ll need. You’ll use the other 6 oz. of pork sausage tomorrow. As for the livers, we’ll make chicken liver pate at a later date! If you doubled the recipe, you’ll just have to buy more. At a $1 a container, keeping chicken livers in the freezer is a handy thing to do.