the quiet american

Andrew Knowlton has dubbed it "the next great sandwich," so when I read The Quiet American for a newly minted book club, I had to make bánh mì for our discussion. Set in Vietnam during the French War, the book lent itself beautifully to mingling European and Asian flavors on the plate.

Endless permutations exist with a myriad of toppings, but the basic bánh mì starts with a baguette and is topped with pate, mayo, pork (meatballs, tenderloin…), pickled vegetables, hot peppers, and fish sauce. Our Quiet American menu consisted of edamame with kosher salt, spicy noodle salad, bánh mì, and dark chocolate éclairs (though we were too stuffed to attempt dessert).

Our Bánh Mì Toppings

pork liver and mushroom pate
ginger pork
spicy pickled mushrooms
mild pickled banana peppers
dijon mustard
shredded carrots
red cabbage
mini-cucumber slices
fish sauce

Ginger Pork

1 ½ lbs. pork shoulder (cut into 1-2 inch pieces - or ask your butcher!)
Ginger root
4 cinnamon sticks
4 kaffir lime leaves
24 oz. vegetable or chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Peel ginger and chop 2 or 3 inches off the root – and cut into 4 or 5 pieces. Generously season all sides of pork with salt and pepper and sear in pan careful not to overcrowd pan (I did two batches). If pork sticks to the bottom of the pan, leave it for 30 more seconds and try to turn it again. Once all of the pork is browned, put back into pan and add ginger, cinnamon sticks, lime leaves, and stock. If needed, add water to just cover pork. Bring liquid to a boil, cover, and bake in oven for at least 2 hours, but up to 4 hours, adding water or stock to keep pork covered. Shred or slice pork and serve.

Some of the Quiet American mix

Good Morning Heartache - Billie Holiday
Let's Fall in Love - Diana Krall
Colours - Donovan
Sea of Love - Cat Power
Between the Bars - Madeleine Peyroux
Au Fond Du Temple Saint - David Byrne & Rufus Wainwright
Reversing - Ryuichi Sakamoto
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - Nina Simone
Summertime - Angelique Kidjo
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Nouvelle Vague
Look at What the Light Did Now - Little Wings
Change Parnters - Harry Connick, Jr.
Help the Aged - Pulp


kyle said...

I wanted to make/eat these ever since reading about it in Bon Appetite. Looks good.

Let's tackle the Semolina Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragu from September's issue next time I'm up?

allison said...


katherine said...

I can vouch that this was delicious. I wish I would have taken some home in tin foil to eat for lunch the next day. Also -- when I was at your house I didn't notice the plates. Now I do. Are they so very European? Nice touch. Nice music mix, too. If you ever feel like burning me some Edith Piaf, I won't complain.

Andrea said...

Thanks again for the wonderful meal and hosting our first book club meet! Of course in good blog fashion, I had to post about your meal too. Can't wait for our next book discussion!