What I know about Vietnamese cuisine fits in a banh mi roll. (See what I did there? I used something from Vietnamese food to qualify what I know about Vietnamese food. Pretty damn clever, if you ask me.) It’s an area I want to explore in greater depth and I’ve been told that there are two very entries in this space locally, so it looks like I have a project for this winter.
Still, I’m a sucker for a good stew and the Tasting Table’s daily email brought this one to my inbox a while back. Chris Shepherd, a James Beard award winner, developed this stew into a staple at his Houston restaurant Underbelly. Separate the two halves of the name banh mi bo kho. The first refers to the bread you are supposed to dip into the sauce. The Vietnamese baguette is supposed to be crusty and hardy, thick enough to contain the pork, pâte, mayo and pickled veg.
The back-end is the beef stew with the traditional Asian flavors of fish sauce, star anise and cinnamon. Brown sugar adds notes of sweetness. The long, slow cooking process allows all of those flavors to blend and flavor the meat through to the middle. It’s a flavor to behold.
WHAT WORKED: Low and slow cooking. This is a perfect fall/winter weekend dinner because it sits on the stove and simmers all day, filling the house with a series of smells that are foreign, interesting, and delicious.
WHAT DIDN’T: Me. I got back from grocery shopping and, for the life of me, could not find the jalepeños. Apparently, I did a lousy job of unpacking my groceries and I never noticed it underneath all of The Kid’s stuff. She found it. I should let her put groceries away from now on.
EASE OF PREPARATION: Medium. There’s a little bit of work to do in balancing the flavors, so you have to pay attention.
BEST FOR: Saturday or Sunday.
SERVE WITH: Plenty of warm bread.