According to Andrea Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen (Ten Speed Press, 2006), the baguette for this iconic Vietnamese sandwich "should be light and airy, with a very delicate crumb that does not fight you, but just frames the sandwich." This recipe first appeared in Saveur's April 2011 special Sandwich Issue with Nguyen's article "Street Hero."
For the slaw:
¼ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup sugar
½ cup julienned carrots
½ cup julienned daikon radish
Kosher salt, to taste
For the seasoned pork:
1 tsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. finely chopped yellow onion
12 oz. ground pork
2 tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ tsp. Asian-style hot sauce
½ tsp. Chinese five-spice powder
½ tsp. red food coloring
¼ tsp. onion powder
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
4 10″ Vietnamese baguettes or Portuguese rolls, split
½ cup mayonnaise
8 ⅛″-thick slices Vietnamese-style pork roll (cha lua) or bologna
8 ⅛″-thick slices Vietnamese-style salami or ham
½ cup cilantro sprigs
½ medium English cucumber, cut lengthwise into 4 thick slices
Asian-style chile oil, to taste
Make the slaw: Bring vinegar, sugar, and ½ cup water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan over high heat; transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in carrots, radish, and salt, and set the slaw aside for 30 minutes. Drain.
Make the seasoned pork: Heat oil in a 10″ nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft, 2–3 minutes. Add pork, hoisin, 2 tsp. soy sauce, sesame oil, hot sauce, five-spice powder, food coloring, onion and garlic powders, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until browned, 5–6 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat oven to 400°. Place baguettes on a baking sheet and spread 1 tbsp. mayonnaise inside both halves. Bake until hot and slightly crisped, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and divide seasoned pork evenly between baguettes. Top each with 2 slices pork roll, 2 slices salami, 1 tsp. soy sauce, ¼ of the cilantro, and 1 cucumber slice. Season with more pepper and chile oil, and top with the slaw. Close sandwiches.
Find recipe on Saveur.com.