Duck banh mi with homemade baguette and purple yam chips

One of my absolute favorite sandwiches is the banh mi. A Vietnamese-French hybrid, it features a baguette that has pate, some sort of meat, pickled vegetables, chilies, and cilantro on it. It’s been one of my favorites for years ever since I had one from Lee’s Sandwiches(yes, I know it’s a chain, but still, the banh mi they serve there are really good). I love the crunch of the almost-sweet pickled vegetables(typically daikon and carrots), with the kick from thinly slices chilies, the fragrance from the cilantro, the richness of the pate, the crunch from the crust on that bread, and the meat just gives the whole thing body. I just love how it all comes together in a bite, with the French influences from the pate and baguette and the chilies and herbs and pickled from Vietnam. That sort of East meets West style completely resonates with me being an immigrant as well as with my culinary style adopting a similar principal of incorporating Asian and European influences into my food.

For my rendition, I mostly stuck to the traditional banh mi, but with a couple of my own twists and changes. I did make my own baguette, and I used duck for my choice of meat, specifically duck breast. I love cooking duck, and with the oil leftover from rendering it, it’s a perfect ingredient to use to make a quick aioli with duck liver(as my homage to the pate), as well as to toast the bread off with. For the pickles, I decided to stick within the carrot and daikon families, using rainbow carrots and watermelon radishes. I also topped the sandwich with thinly slices jalapeño and some micro cilantro, and I served it with a lime wedge. I don’t think the lime wedge is traditional in a banh mi, but I love how the lime, jalapeño, and cilantro just really lift and bring to life the entire sandwich, and the extra acidity is a definite need in this with duck being such a fatty protein. I also served the sandwich with some simply salt and peppered purple yam chips, just to add more color and brightness to the dish.

Makes 4 banh mi:
For the bread:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups water
1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
a pinch of salt

Whisk together ingredients to form a dough. Knead on a clean surface for 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and supple. Rest in a warm place, covered, for 1 hour. Re-knead the dough, and allow to rest again for another 2 hours at room temperature. Divide into four pieces and shape into individual baguettes and place onto a lined sheet tray. Allow these to rest for 2 hours. Fill a shallow baking pan with water and place inside of an oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Score the tops of your baguettes and bake in the oven, with the sheet pan of water, for 25 minutes. Cool completely before using. I highly recommend making the bread a day before, just so you have something to look forward to doing the following day.

For the pickles:
1 watermelon radish
1 purple carrot
1 yellow carrot
1 orange carrot
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons palm sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

Thinly shave your root vegetables on a mandolin and toss in the salt and fish sauce first, leaving them in a deep, heat-proof container. Allow that to sit while you prepare the pickling liquid. For the liquid, combine the other ingredients and bring to a simmer, until the sugar has just dissolved into the liquid. Pour over your root vegetables and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator to cool down completely.

For the duck:
2 duck breasts

Score the skin sides and then season the duck breasts. Place in either a cast iron or nonstick pan and bring up to heat. Allow the fat from the duck to render from the skin for about 7-8 minutes. Reserve the fat that renders out for your aioli and to toast the baguettes with. Sear on the flesh side for 1 minute, then transfer to a 400 degree F oven and finish cooking in there for another 10 minutes. Rest the duck for another 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

For the aioli:
1 egg yolk
1 duck liver
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 cup reserved duck fat + oil + more duck fat for cooking the liver

Sear off the duck liver and garlic in the duck fat, the liver on each side for 2 minutes, and the garlic until golden brown. Transfer into a food processor and puree with everything but the oil first, and slowly drizzle in the oil while pureeing until the mixture has thickened, emulsified, and turned glossy. Season with salt to finish.

For the bread:
reserved duck fat

Line a large nonstick pan with the duck fat and heat up to medium heat. Slice the baguettes in half, lengthwise or hot dog bun style. Toast the flat sides in the duck fat until they are golden brown. Smear on the aioli onto both sides.

For the chips:
1 purple yam
canola oil

Rinse the yam to remove any dirt and pat dry. Heat up oil to 330 degrees F. Thinly shave the yam on a mandolin and allow to soak in water. Pat dry and throw the shaved yam into the oil, allowing the chips to cook in the oil until they are no longer bubbling. Drain on a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

To garnish:
Thinly slices jalapeño
Micro cilantro
Lime wedges

To assemble, take your baguettes that have been toasted and covered in aioli, and lay on your duck, then your pickled, top with some thinly sliced pieces of  jalapeño and micro cilantro, and serve with the lime wedge and chips. You can also serve any spare aioli on the side as a dipping sauce for the chips as well.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    So generous of you to share the recipes (as always). This post is full of great guide on side dishes and DIY Bah Mi! So salivating right now….

    Liked by 1 person

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