Supper club host James Ramsden held a Franco-Vietnamese night recently. Banh mi seems an obivous choice, but he felt just a sandwich wasn't quite right. Discover how he took the compenents and turned it into more of a main course.
Deconstruction, like fusion, has become a dirty word in food. Deconstructed tiramisu, deconstructed beef wellington. Just construct the damn thing, you want to say to the chef - I didn't pay £30 to have the various components of my dinner placed in front of me to put together myself.
This isn't a deconstruction. It's a dish that works in its own right. But it's a dish that just happens to take the components of a banh mi and stick them on a plate. We were doing a Franco-Vietnamese night, you see, and nothing is more Franco-Vietnamese than banh mi - a Frenchy baguette dressed with Vietnamese pickled vegetables and other bits and pieces. It's as fine a sandwich as any, but serving a sandwich to paying guests at a supper club isn't really on.
So we decided to take the spirit, the dark and light, the fat and the spice, of the banh mi and turn it into more of a main course dish. Here it is. On the one hand it's very straightforward, on the other it isn't exactly a one-pot dish.
Smoked oysters are, you may be surprised to hear, available in pretty much all large-ish supermarkets. John West makes them. Good old John West.
Fried pig cheek, pickled vegetables, charred lettuce, smoked oyster mayonnaise
For the cheeks
1kg pig cheeks
1 litre ham stock
25g dried breadcrumbs
2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
Salt and pepper
Grapeseed or vegetable oil
For the pickled vegetables
300ml rice or cider vinegar
100g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
50g radishes, thickly sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
For the charred lettuce
3 gem lettuce, halved
Drop of grapeseed or vegetable oil
For the smoked oyster mayonnaise
2 egg yolks
2 tsp French mustard
300ml grapeseed or vegetable oil
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 tin smoked oysters, mashed to a pulp
First up, put the pig cheeks and ham stock in a large pan and bring to a boil. Simmer gently for 3 hours. Remove the cheeks and cool for 10 minutes, then shred with a pair of forks. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper, and a good ladle of the ham stock and combine. Taste for seasoning. Form into equal sized patties and chill.
For the pickle, mix the vinegar, sugar and salt until dissolved, then add the vegetables. Leave for minimum 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
For the mayonnaise, whisk together the egg yolks and mustard, then, a drop at a time, whisk in the oil until emulsified. Stir through the lemon juice and oysters along with a pinch of salt. Set aside.
To serve, toss the chilled pig cheek patties in the seasoned flour and shake off any excess. Heat a drop of oil in a frying pan over a good heat and fry the cheeks for 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Set aside in a warm place.
Add a little more oil if necessary and add the lettuce, cut side down. Char over a super-high heat for 1 minute until slightly blackened.
Plate the pig cheeks with charred lettuce, pickled vegetables, and smoked oyster mayonnaise. Garnish with coriander and mint and serve with French bread.
Inspired? For more pork recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.