Say it with us: “An!” It means “eat” in Vietnamese. Follow Helene An, executive chef at Beverly Hills hot spot House of An, as she recounts the family history that brought her to culinary fame in Los Angeles, and the recipes she and her daughter cook for their never-ending line of hungry fans.
Infinitely customizable, the bánh mì sandwich has just one rule: The bread shouldn’t overshadow the flavors of its fillings. Generally, in Vietnam, bánh mì sandwiches are made with inexpensive cuts of pork, but here we’ve made it our own with thin slices of grilled steak marinated in tropical fruits, lemongrass, and our special satay sauce. My mother often uses pineapple and kiwi in her meat marinade. Not only are they natural tenderizers, but they also add some sweetness that is great for grilled meat. In fact, the flank steak here is so flavorful and tender that it can also be enjoyed on its own for a low-carb meal.
- 1/2 cup Spicy Satay Sauce for Grilled Meat
- 2 tablespoons pineapple juice
- 1 ounce chopped fresh pineapple, or 1 canned pineapple ring, chopped
- 1/8 fresh kiwi, peeled and chopped
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only
- 1 pound flank steak, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
- 2 tablespoons ponzu (citrus-seasoned soy sauce)
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 2 soft baguettes, split lengthwise and then cut into thirds
- butter lettuce
- Pickled carrots
- pickled daikon
- 12 jalapeños, julienned into long, thin strips (optional)
- 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
- Maggi seasoning sauce
- freshly ground black pepper
- sea salt
Spicy Satay Sauce for Grilled Meat (makes about 5 cups)
- 2 to 3 fresh lemongrass stalks
- 5 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 pounds white onions, chopped
- 14 ounces shallots, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup chili paste
- 2 (12-ounce) cans coconut-flavored soda
- 1/2 cup fish sauce
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce
- 1/2 cup pineapple juice
- 1 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sesame oil
- 1 pear, sliced
Pickling brine (makes about 3 quarts)
- 1 quart white vinegar
- 4 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
Pickled carrots (makes about 5 pints)
- 5 pounds carrots, peeled
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- Canning jars or tempered-glass containers with lids, sanitized
For the pickling brine
In a glass mixing bowl that can hold at least 4 quarts of liquid, mix the vinegar with 2 quarts of warm water. Add the sugar and salt and stir until they dissolve.
NOTE: Tap water is fine to use unless you have hard water. If so, use purified water instead.
NOTE: Be sure to use sea salt without any additives, as certain chemicals can make the brine cloudy.
For the pickled carrots
Cut the carrots into 1/8-inch-thick rounds. Place the carrot slices in a large bowl.
Sprinkle the sugar on top of the carrots, tossing well to coat. Set the bowl aside on the counter and let the carrots marinate for 2 hours.
Drain the carrots and discard any accumulated juices.
Divide the marinated carrots among glass jars or containers. Pour the pickling brine into the jars, covering the carrots completely but stopping within ½ inch of the top of the jars. Place the lids on the jars or containers and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Pickled carrots can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
VARIATION: For Pickled Daikon Radish: Replace carrots with daikon radish in steps above; however, make sure that the daikon is thoroughly dried and all water is squeezed out before placing in the brine. Pickled daikon keeps crisp for just 5 days.
For the satay sauce
Separate the tender inner white lemongrass bulbs from the tough outer stalks, but save both pieces. Cut the white bulbs into thin slices, and set aside. Crush the outer lemongrass stalks to release the flavor, and then tie the stalks into a bunch, and set aside.
Heat the canola oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the lemongrass bulbs, the bundle of lemongrass stalks, the onions, shallots, ginger, and chili paste. Sauté until the mixture is very fragrant. Add the coconut soda. Stir in the fish sauce, soy sauce, pineapple juice, and brown sugar.
Reduce the heat to low. Add the pear slices, sesame oil, and pineapple pieces. Add the black pepper and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce can be kept in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
For the sandwiches
In a medium bowl, mix the satay sauce with the pineapple juice. Stir in the pineapple, kiwi, and lemongrass. Put the steak into a resealable plastic bag.
Add the marinade and seal. Turn the steak to coat it in the marinade and refrigerate for 2 hours.
TO MAKE THE AIOLI: In a medium bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, sriracha, ponzu, and chili oil. Set aside.
Preheat an outdoor grill or grill pan and cook the marinated flank steak for 3 minutes per side for medium doneness.
Assemble each sandwich as follows: Spread aioli on the baguette, then layer with butter lettuce, 2 slices of flank steak, pickled carrots, pickled daikon, 3 jalapeño strips (if using), 2 sprigs of cilantro, and Maggi, salt, and pepper as desired. Serve.