pork belly banh mi with pickled owls nest root veggies and spicy hoisin

thanks to Will Gray, Owl's Nest CSA member and owner/doer of all things at Backpocket Provisions for sharing!

Makes 6 sandwiches spicy hoisin

  • ¼ cup prepared mayonnaise (get over it, it’s delicious)
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 Tbl. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbl. Sriracha, or your favorite hot sauce
  • 2 Tbl. rice wine vinegar (or to taste)

Whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl. Taste and adjust with vinegar; you’re looking for balance between sweet, sour, and spicy. Put aside.

pickled owl's nest root veggies

  • A mix of Owl’s Nest radishes – daikon, watermelon, spicy black, or pink beauty
  • A few Owl’s Nest carrots, peeled if you feel like it
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup sugar plus 2 tsp.
  • 1 ¼ cup distilled vinegar
  • 1 cup water

Using a sharp knife or a mandolin slicer*, julienne the radishes and carrot into matchsticks about a quarter of an inch thick. Combine the vegetables with the salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a mixing bowl and toss with your hands for about five minutes. The vegetables will begin sweating moisture, and you’re done when you can touch the two ends of a carrot stick together without it snapping.

Rinse under running water and drain thoroughly in a colander. Transfer to a quart jar.

Combine the remaining half cup of sugar with the vinegar and water in a small saucepot. Heat on the stove, stirring often, just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Pour the brine into the jar over the vegetables, making sure they’re completed covered. Refrigerate for at least one hour, or for up to a month (but seriously, there’s no way these veggies will last that long. Add leftovers to salads or just eat with a fork).

roasted pork belly

  • 1 lb. pork belly
  • 1 Tbl. Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 Tbl. salt
  • ½ cup water

Gently score the surface of the pork belly with a sharp knife. Rub the Chinese five-spice and salt all over the belly and leave, uncovered, in the fridge for at least an hour and up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 500ᵒ F (or use the broiler). Lay the pork belly in a shallow roasted pan or on a rimmed baking sheet with a wire rack. Once the oven is hot, roast the belly for 10 or 15 minutes until golden brown and beginning to blister. Turn the oven down to 300ᵒ F, add the water to the pan, cover tightly with aluminum foil and roast 2 ½ or 3 hours more, until falling-apart tender. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest, tented with foil, for 15 minutes.

putting it together

  • 6 banh mi rolls (or long white bread rolls), halved lengthways
  • 1 long red chili, thinly sliced
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Once the pork belly has cooled, thinly slice against the grain. Slather both sides of each roll with spicy hoisin mayo**. In a mixing bowl, combine a handful of pickled vegetables with the sliced red chili and the chopped cilantro. Lay slices of roasted pork belly across one half of each roll, mound with the vegetable mixture, and top with the other half of the roll.

Slice the banh mi sandwiches in half, and serve with cold beer and plenty of napkins.

*Yeah, you can do it with a sharp knife and all that free time you’ve been trying to waste, but it’s the perfect job for a mandolin. For about $25, a sharp mandolin is a great tool to keep around the kitchen, and most include a set of julienne blades that will make quick work of these pickles.

** To take your banh mi to the next level, smear one side of the roll with pork or duck pâté instead of doubling up on spicy hoisin sauce.