Friday, March 25, 2016

Fried Fish Bahn Mi

When you bite into a bahn mi you taste roast pork along with carrots, daikon and cilantro. Such tongue tingling pleasure!  We favor them for lunch a lot, but the closest Vietnamese joint Maxia, is a long car ride away. And I want to eat this vivid memory of the crisp baguette, juicy pork, the fresh slaw, cilantro and jalapeƱo now! I fell in love with bahn mis when we got them to go at Ba Le on the Big Island In Hawaii. Sitting on the sunny beach, beer in one hand and the crisp sandwich in the other, as I kept asking myself why I hadn't eaten one before! Then there are the ones at Saigon Sandwich in San Francisco. They are a thing of beauty and a joy to eat. And they travel well from coast to coast! So my romance with the sandwich continues.

I want to change it up a bit. Why not fish in place of meat? I rub tilapia fillets with curry powder and seasonings, lightly coat then in arrowroot and sandwich them in toasted Kaiser rolls. A few more essentials are added to the fish, mainly a crisp daikon and carrot slaw. The slaw needs to marinate for an hour so as the fish defrosts,  the slaw steeps in vinegar. A quick mayo and sriracha dressing adds to the magic. The sum total is a mouthwatering handheld delight.

Makes 4 sandwiches 

4 Tilapia fillets 
2 teaspoons Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
Several grinds of Black Pepper
2 teaspoons Arrowroot 
1 tablespoon Canola Oil 
1 small Daikon
2 Carrots
1/4 cup Rice Vinegar
2 teaspoons Sugar
A large pinch Kosher Salt 
1/4 teaspoon Chile Flakes
1/2 cup Cilantro 
1/4 cup Mayonnaise 
3 teaspoons Sriracha 
4 Kaiser Rolls 

Start making the slaw. Peel daikon and carrots and slice into matchsticks. Put them in a nonreactive bowl.

Heat vinegar, sugar salt and chile flakes till sugar dissolves for a few minutes. Remove from flame and let it come to room temperature. 

Pour vinegar over daikon and carrots and let veggies steep for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Drain and keep aside.

Wash and dry tilapia. Dust fish with curry powder, salt and pepper. Rub spices on both sides of fish. 

Heat oil in a nonstick saucepan.

Sprinkle fish with arrowroot and fry in oil till golden on one side. Flip and brown on the other.

Mix mayo and Sriracha till smooth.

Heat broiler. 

Cut rolls in half and broil for a few minutes till golden and crisp.

Start putting the sandwiches together in an assembly line fashion. Slather one half of roll with mayo.

Lay fish over mayo.

Top fish with a generous helping of daikon and carrot.

Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro.

Top with other buns.

Enjoy !

It is fun recreating a food memory. I know I cannot bring back the sensations that go with my first bite. No sun, no sand, no sea breeze, no beer. That's the thing about a recollection. It's stays with you. Then my story changes. Pork morphs into fish, baguettes into Kaiser rolls! Though the carrots and daikon stay the same.  Flexibility and my fridge go hand in hand!