For some time, I have suggested that when our friend Kim Wildermuth's sister, Loan (pronounced Lahn), who's mother is responsible for our favorite "Mom's Soy Pickled Jalapeños" comes to visit, that we get together and make a Vietnemese inspired pizza. I have been a lucky guest on many of her visits from Oregon, when she and her husband Randy make the trip down to cook for me. (Well, maybe they're here visiting Kim, but in my mind it's all about cooking for me!) Kim is an amazing cook in her own right, we've posted a few of our cooking sessions here, though she always humbly defers to the excellence of both her mother and sister as the truly great cooks. Let me say, for the record, that they are all pretty awesome in the kitchen!
The first time I mentioned my idea of making a Vietnamese pizza Loan thought I was crazy. She loves to bake fresh breads and was interested in getting together on one of her visits and making pizza with me, but making a Vietnamese pizza wasn't on her mind. I just think she didn't connect the two culinary cultures. That's where my madness comes in; I planted the seeds. Time cultivated the concept and a recent trip provided the chance to finally make some pizzas together. We traded some emails and Kim and I kicked some ideas back and forth, then she and her sister kicked them around and, aha, we wound up coming up with a pizza tribute to the famous Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches!
What makes the Banh Mi sandwich so good? As with any good sandwich, it starts with the bread. After the French colonization of Vietnam ended in 1954, one of the things left behind was the French baguette. When they first introduced this the Vietnamese called it Banh Tay, which means "Foreign Cake". It eventually became known as Banh Mi which basically means "bread." "Mi" is wheat. The coming together of cultures reminds me of the old commercials where someone is walking down the street eating chocolate and would bump into that strange individual who walked around with a peanut butter jar. When they inadvertently came together we supposedly ended up with the Reese's Peanut Butter cup! Well, as much as I like a peanut butter cup, I'll take a crisp warm Banh Mi sandwich, filled with a spicy, tangy concoction of marinaded pork, pickled carrots, cucumber and daikon with a little mayo, jalapeño and cilantro to top it off.
Sounds a little like a pizza to me. Warm crusty dough topped with all of these delicious ingredients. On top of that, another great aspect of this pizza concept that I love so much is the combination of warm and cool ingredients coming together. The change of temperatures you experience as you bite into a warm pizza dough, with hot oozy cheeses, topped with a cool juicy topping, adds another element to your experience.
I decided to try a new dough variation for this pizza. I made up one of my favorite pizza doughs -- Peter's Signature Bruery Beer Dough -- but during the preparation I substituted a Sriracha Seasoned Salt that I made to see how that might give the dough a little more participation in this flavor party.
The LKB Bahn Mi Pizza (Loan, Kim and Brad)
- Peter's Signature Bruery Pizza Dough *Made with Sriracha Seasoned Salt (I'll post this salt recipe soon -- till then, use your favorite pizza dough)
- Peter's Chili Oil *Link to Recipe
- Brad's Spicy Mayonnaise Sauce *Link to Recipe
- Chinese Barbeque marinaded pork loin
- Sliced Pickled Carrots, Cucumbers, Daikon, Green Onions
- Sliced Scallions
- Soy Sauce for drizzling
Make the Chili Oil ahead of time - link to recipe above
Spicy Mayo Sauce:
I wanted to come up with a way to use Mayonnaise on the pizza to follow the tradition of the Banh Mi sandwich. I didn't think spreading plain mayo on the dough and then baking it would make for an interesting "sauce". I pictured it coming out dry and crusty which didn't seem appetizing. As we were prepping things, I came up with an idea. I had made up some of Peter's Chili Oil to drizzle on our pizzas and thought about using that and adding some of Mom's Soy Pickled Jalapeños that I often have laying around -- especially when you're with Mom's two daughters! In fact, we had a fresh batch that Loan brought down from Oregon. It turned out great! It was moist and full of flavor. Check out the link above to this easy recipe. I will definitely use this on a sandwich in the near future.
We used a Char Sui Chinese BBQ Pork package to rub onto the pork loin. Loan substituted Fish Sauce for the Soy Sauce called for on the package. She does so, because the pork remains brighter than with the Soy Sauce. She also adds a little Black Pepper and Garlic Salt to the mixture.
Mix the ingredients and pour over the pork.
Follow instructions on baking a Pork Loin, or whatever cut of meat you are using. Bake the pork loin. I tried to pull some out of the oven a little early so that it would remain moist as it finished cooking on the pizza. We let the rest cook a little longer and served it as an appetizer with some nice mustard on the side. The thinly sliced, moist pork cooked up perfectly on the pizza.
Pickling the Veggies
- Julienne the carrots, daikon and cucumbers into long thin slivers and place in a shallow dish.
- Sprinkle a little sugar on the veggies and a touch of salt.
- Add enough vinegar to almost cover the thin layer of veggies. *If eating right away, using rice vinegar provides a lighter taste profile.
- Add a enough water to cover the veggies.
- Add Fish Sauce because it goes on everything.
- Allow them to sit for at least an hour.
*The rest can be stored in a sealed jar. Loan doesn't measure, so you'll have to experiment, or look up another recipe for exact amounts.
The Pizza Part:
Pre-heat your oven to the highest temperature, about 550 degrees, for at least an hour prior to cooking to make sure to get your pizza stone up to temperature.
Spread out your dough and cover it with the Spicy Mayo Sauce and drizzle a little of the Chili Oil over the top.
Add some of the sliced pork loin and scallions and place it in the oven. Bake until done.
When the pizza comes out of the oven add more of the juicy bbq pork loin and top with the pickled vegetables.
Top with Cilantro and drizzle with a little soy sauce to taste.
This Banh Mi Pizza came out amazing. There are many layers of flavors, textures and temperatures to experience with this pizza! As you bite into it, you notice the cool pickled veggies and the warm crusty dough on the top and bottom of your mouth. Then you begin to get into the warm bbq pork and spicy mayo sauce. It's a flavor explosion!
What makes a Banh Mi Sandwich so good? Well, I would certainly give an equal role to the warm fresh crusty French Baguette and the delicious ingredients. A sandwich can only be memorable with a great bread. A good sandwich filling can, in fact, be reduced to mediocre with a lousy bread. It's the same with pizza. A warm, delicious crusty dough topped with great ingredients will make a great pizza. It all has to work together.
This will definitely be a pizza that I repeat and, as I write this up, I realize, I will be repeating it soon! I'm pressuring Peter to play with this one. I know it's one he'll love and want to see what he comes up with when he tries it.