There’s this guy. Let’s call him Greg (for that, indeed, is his actual name). He is, however, also known to at least some of you as Sup from the rather excellent Sippity Sup.
A few weeks ago, the alignment of the planets was such that myself and Greg were in San Francisco at the same time. I cannot tell you how excited I was when I discovered, via Twitter, that, for a few days, we would be within a few blocks of each other. A few messages were exchanged and a lunch date set. There was some discussion of Vietnamese food and specifically bánh mì – Vietnamese-style baguette sandwiches containing, among other things, a goodly dose of sweet pickled veg, chili, coriander, mayonnaise and your protein of choice (classically pork). Greg even went as far as to wonder whether I knew that such fare would not involve much in the way of potatoes. Clearly he feared that I might suffer from a deficiency of spuds whilst on my foreign travels. The concern was touching, though he really had nothing to worry about on that front.
In the end, you could say that we met, not for lunch, but for lunches, because we followed a trip to the lovely Zuni Café with a visit to Saigon Sandwich, a little hole-in-the-wall joint, to sample some first class bánh mì. You can read what Greg had to say on the subject here but, suffice to say that, while it may have been my first bánh mì, it was most certainly not my last.
Fast forward a few weeks and I am back at home base, suffering from bánh mì withdrawal and thinking that I should, in Greg’s honour, do a Spudly take on those fine Vietnamese concoctions. My first thought was to go the route of bánh-mì-meets-chip-butty, replacing the pork with chips and the baguette with toasted batch bread and creating what might well be the world’s first bánh butty. In fact, next time I’m feeling the need for a little carb-on-carb action, I think I will make just that.
What I made today, though, wasn’t a sandwich at all, but a baked potato stuffed with some of the things you might otherwise find gracing your typical bánh mì. A bit of an east-west mash-up you might say. It won’t ever take the place of the experience that is a visit to Saigon Sandwich, but it made for a tasty lunch all the same.
Vietnamesey Baked Potatoes aka Sippity Spuds
For this, I took inspiration from Greg’s recipe for bánh mì, as well as browsing a few other bánh mì recipes on the World Wide Interweb.
- 4 large potatoes, preferably floury
- coarse salt
The pickled veg:
- 125g carrot
- 125g daikon radish
- 300ml water
- 75ml rice vinegar
- 60g sugar
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 4 tblsp mayonnaise
- 2 tsp Asian fish sauce
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 100g cucumber
- 1 small jalapeño chili (or substitute other fresh chili)
- 4 tblsp chopped fresh coriander
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C
- Scrub the potatoes and dry them. Prick the skin all over using a fork or small knife.
- Sprinkle a baking tray with some coarse salt, place the potatoes on the tray and bake until tender, which should take somewhere between an hour and an hour and a quarter, depending on size.
- While the potatoes are baking, prepare the pickled veg: combine the water, rice vinegar, sugar and salt and stir to dissolve; peel and dice both the carrot and daikon, place in a small bowl and cover with the pickling liquid. Leave to stand for at least 30 minutes.
- Combine the mayonnaise, fish sauce and ground coriander in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Dice the cucumber, chop the fresh coriander, finely chop the jalapeño.
- When the potatoes are done, remove from the oven, cut each one in half, scoop out the cooked flesh and add to the bowl containing the mayonnaise mixture and mash the two together.
- Drain the carrot and daikon, reserving some of the liquid.
- Add the fresh coriander, jalapeño, cucumber, carrot and daikon to the mashed potato and stir to mix.
- Check for salt and add more if it’s to your taste, along with a couple of twists of black pepper.
- If you want a bit more of the pickle sweetness in the mash, you can stir a tblsp or two of the reserved pickle liquid into the potatoes.
- Fill the baked potato shells with the mashed potato mixture and eat on their own or with other salads or maybe even with Greg’s bánh mì style roasted pork.
- Though I didn’t do so this time around, I would probably add some spring onions next time and some lightly toasted and crushed peppercorns too.
- You could grate a little garlic into the mayonnaise if you felt so inclined.
- Though not typically bánh mì-ish, you could try adding some crushed roasted peanuts.
- Baked spuds for 4